The School’s History
It started with commitment and determination of the Ariang community.
- Ariang School founded (1990s)
In the midst of civil war between North and South Sudan, the Ariang community saw the need for education for their children. Through community efforts, Ariang School was founded in the 1990s to provide basic elementary education to hundreds of children in Ariang and surrounding villages. However, Attacks by North Sudan Murahileen militiamen forced the school to close periodically in addition to harsh weather elements. The school functioned in makeshift classes held under trees. The community compensated teachers through Food for Work collected from each family during the harvesting time. The teachers, though limited in education, felt an obligation to teach the children whatever little education they had. As one teacher, Garang Akoon, explains, “We were like a small child carrying a smaller child on our back.”
- Gabriel Bol Deng returns home (2007)
In 2007 when Gabriel Bol Deng first returned to his native village of Ariang after twenty years, he found this community school under the trees. Gabriel saw the challenges that the community faced in educating their children. Lack of trained teachers and instructional materials for students and staff were among these challenges. In addition, the lack of clean drinking water on the school premise made it difficult for girls to attend school and caused many children to suffer from cholera and other water-related diseases. It was during this trip that Gabriel first shared his dream with the community of building a primary school. “I saw your learning conditions as well as your determination to get an education. I encouraged you to persevere under these extreme conditions in your school under trees and God willing we will be able to build a concrete school building with a roof someday.” ~ Gabriel Bol Deng speaking at Ariang School Assembly in June 2007
- A Collective Effort (2007-2009)
Upon returning to the United States, Gabriel began working tirelessly to raise funds to be able to fulfill this dream for the children of Ariang. Through many generous supporters and contributions in the United States and Europe, he was able to return to Ariang in 2009 to initiate the school’s construction.
- Drilling Water Wells (2009)
The first step was to drill six hand-pump wells, one of which was dug on the future school site. The wells drastically reduced the incidence of cholera and would also enable more girls to attend school.
- Community Making Bricks (2009)
The next step was to make the bricks, which would be used to build the school. In collaboration with the Ariang community, the youth and women hand-made over 300,000 bricks to construct Ariang School. The bricks were made through the mixing of sand, clay, cow dung, and water and simple wooden brick molds. The process was then completed, by the building of a kiln to fire the bricks. This technique and composition of the bricks guarantee they are long-lasting.
- Breaking Ground (2010)
Finally, in 2010, Gabriel broke the ground to begin the construction of the School Building, which was completed in December 2010.
- Ariang Primary School Opens (May 2011)
The school officially welcomed children in its classrooms for the first time in May 2011, equipped with desks and chairs. The new school built by HOPE for Ariang Foundation allows all children, Class 1 to 8, to receive an education in their own village in safe classrooms, equipped with the essential tools for learning.
- Ariang School Today (Present)
Ariang School is now educating over 650 students. Today, there are nearly equal numbers of boys and girls at the school, a drastic increase from just 50 girls when the school first started. HOPE for Ariang’s work is now focused on establishing Ariang Primary School as an exemplary school in the region with quality instruction and learning. We are currently focused on training our teachers as well as providing ongoing infrastructure support such as uniforms, classroom materials, sports and club equipment, and constructing a perimeter fence. A school is more than a building! With Ariang Primary School building completed, HOPE for Ariang Foundation’s real work has just begun. Quality education requires so much more than bricks and mortar or school building. Educational excellence is determined by quality instruction, effective administration, and availability of relevant instructional materials. Our Dream for Ariang School: Education in the shadow of the civil way requires a holistic approach. Our vision if for Ariang School to become a center for community development. It can serve as a hub for community dialogue, as well as mobilization for addressing other social, economic and health issues. Starting in 2013, we started providing stable, nutritious meals for the children which are supplemented by the World Food Program. Our hope is to add a school-based health clinic with a school nurse and health educator to teach and promote basic hygiene and sanitation in the school. All school children would receive vaccinations and weekly recreational opportunities. Because of the prolonged war, a generation of South Sudanese adults was deprived of basic education in their youth. Therefore, our vision is to provide adult education in order to develop the village. Adults in the community would have the opportunity to attend classes in the evening and learn skills in tailoring, masonry, and basic computer skills. Lastly, we recognize the need for a Secondary School. When our students graduate from Ariang Primary School, there are limited Secondary School options for them. The closest school is a long walking distance, overcrowded, and lacks qualified teachers. Our vision is to establish Ariang Secondary School so that we can ensure that our students receive a quality education all the way through Grade 12!
HOPE for Ariang Foundation
P.O. Box 569
Syracuse, NY, 13214