Empowering Educators Initiative

Dear Friends of Ariang,

I am excited to report how HOPE is growing in Ariang, South Sudan!

This year is off to a wonderful start because of your generous support. Let me recap some of our accomplishments thus far that were only possible through you!

  • 675 boy and girl uniforms were made in Kenya and transported to Ariang. A uniform is a powerful tool of establishing community, equality, and pride among students.
  • 650 pairs of sturdy shoes were distributed as a result of our special appeal last December. With donations ranging from $5 to $2,000, we were able to purchase quality shoes from the non-profit, Because International. These Ethiopian made shoes are designed for rough African terrain and expand as the child grows.
  • The school received new soccer balls and pumps to promote healthy exercise.  
  • We equipped the school with needed school supplies for this academic school year: exercise books, pencils, pens, geometrical sets, and teacher planning books.
  • All teachers received new professional clothes and five bicycles to be shared among those who live a long distance from school.

It is a privilege and honor to be able to give these gifts on your behalf. I wish I could accurately share with you their smiles and gratitude expressed! The morale at the school has been lifted in the midst of daily suffering in the village. The students and teachers at the school know that they are not alone in their pursuit of education and that there are friends over 10,000 miles away who are supporting and cheering them on! Thank you for helping Ariang community to carry on in their pursuit to reach their fullest potential.

These supplies and materials are surely making an impact in Ariang, but what HOPE for Ariang Foundation is embarking on starting next month is even more exciting. It has the potential to have a greater impact for many years to come. I am so excited to share about our Empowering Educators Initiative (EEI) that begins in May!

EEI focuses on improving the quality of education in South Sudan through teacher training, starting at Ariang Primary School. The program will:

  • Begin with a cohort of six Ariang Primary school teachers (fellows) who, given proper training and tools, can be effective teacher-leaders.
  • Fellows will come to Nairobi, Kenya during their school holidays in May and August 2018 for intensive training institutes led by our partner, Dignitas who has trained 569 educators in Kenya since 2011.
  • In between and after institutes, fellows will receive one-on-one coaching from Elizabeth Deng to help them implement the new skills.

Empowering Educators Initiative will equip Ariang teachers to improve pedagogical skills and methodologies, meet the learning needs of their students, and ultimately transform the quality of education at Ariang Primary School.

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After our first cohort of teachers, we hope to grow and expand the program to empower more teachers at Ariang Primary as well as other local schools.

Will you join us as we roll out this exciting new initiative? Uniforms, shoes, and materials are important to address “the needs of now”, but equipping teachers with new knowledge and skills is what will have a long-lasting impact on student learning for years to come.

Please consider giving towards our Empowering Educators Initiative today!

  •      $50 will cover one teacher’s visa to Nairobi, Kenya.
  •      $100 will help cover one teacher’s transport to the training.
  •      $300 will cover the training resources for one teacher.  
  •      $3,500 will cover all expenses for one teacher to fully participate in the program.

Read more about our six selected fellows here! Each one is committed teacher at Ariang School. I am excited for EEI to unlock their potential to be great teacher-leaders. You can donate specifically for this program by following the donate link and writing the name of a specific teacher or just “Teacher Training” in the designed “special instructions” box at Pay Pal checkout. You may also make a donation by mail to the address below.

Thank you for partnering with us to make an even greater impact in Ariang!

With Gratitude,

Elizabeth Deng

Passing on the Role of Executive Director

Greeting Friends of HOPE for Ariang, I send my heartfelt greetings from South Sudan!
At Ariang Primary School, students are finishing their school year and continue to take their studies seriously by having good attendance and promising exam results. In May 2017, the school marked its sixth year of learning in the building which you, our supporters, funded and the Ariang community built.

South Sudan, in its early infancy stage as a democratic nation, is still very fragile as it fluctuates between periods of peace and war. Her citizens continuously suffer when development and progress are hindered as a result.

And yet, there is this little school in a remote rural village that carries on in the midst of uncertainty and provides a glimpse of South Sudan’s brighter future.

We continue to invest in the future of South Sudanese youth because education is the only way to develop and change a country. I am encouraged when I meet Ariang Primary School alumni who are attending secondary school or even some who are beginning their higher education at various universities throughout South Sudan! Each and every student that leaves Ariang School Primary with knowledge and other life skills to carry them forward makes our efforts worth it!

Over the past year, I have recognized the need for help in continuing HOPE for Ariang’s work in South Sudan.

I couldn’t be more proud to pass on the role of Executive Director, to a former board member and my wife, Elizabeth Deng.

She brings passion, commitment, and leadership to the organization. As an experienced teacher, she is dedicated to helping Ariang School grow and thrive. With our family now based in East Africa, she is able to provide even more hands-on support to the school and oversight on future programs. Below, you can read about two new initiatives she is currently working on in collaboration with our Ariang School staff: Shoes and Teacher Training.

Please join me in enthusiastically welcoming Elizabeth as our new Executive Director! I am confident she will help further HOPE for Ariang’s mission in South Sudan of providing educational opportunities for all. As I step away from the daily operations, I will still play an advisory role to Elizabeth to allow for a smooth transition as well as be a guest speaker at requesting schools and venues.

Serving as Founding Executive Director will always be my most rewarding and proudest work. It has been humbling to see what can be achieved when a community, spread across the globe, comes together to support my dream of providing education to boys and girls in Ariang. Thank you for being part of the journey!

With Deep Gratitude, Gabriel Bol Deng

Report from Ariang School

 

Dear Family and Friends,

At the beginning of December, I had the privilege of traveling to Ariang village to visit the school and meet with the community. It had been six years since I last visited and I was eager to reconnect with teachers, students, and community members as I begin my new role as Executive Director.  I went with a very simple purpose: to listen. I wanted to hear from as many teachers, students, and their parents and understand the successes, challenges, and dreams for Ariang Primary School.

During my last visit in 2011, South Sudan was a newly independent country. Optimism and hope were evident in the community and throughout the new Republic.  Since 2011, South Sudan has been devastated by its own civil war that has had a significant impact on the country’s security and development.  While Ariang School is located in a region of the country that is removed from the frequent violence, they still feel the economic impact resulting from the war.

Throughout my conversations there were two overarching themes that appeared:

  • Ariang community as a whole, which includes teachers, students, and parents, has a deep understanding that education has the transformative power to change the course of an individual, family and community.

 

Students wake up before dawn to get ready and walk two hours to school, because they know that an education will provide a better future for them.

Teachers continue to teach while earning a meager salary because they believe that education is the key to lift up their community. Even with limited teaching tools, they desire to guide young boys and girls in their learning so that they can be the future change in Ariang.

Families are recognizing the importance of school and more are sending their young girls to Ariang School. When the school began, less than 25% were girls. This year, there were almost even number of boys and girls.

  • Ariang community faces numerous daily struggles of survival that extends to Ariang Primary School. Teachers, students, and community members are crying for more support and help to build up their school and community.

Students are in need of new uniforms, shoes, and basic school supplies; items that are difficult for most families to buy.

Teachers come with varied levels of education and training. They are desperate for more training to improve their teaching practices.

Teachers also come long distances to school, making it difficult for them to arrive early or on-time for lessons.

The school is showing signs of deterioration due to the lack of a schoolyard fence to secure the building and students. In addition, the chalkboards are in need of repair.

I left Ariang with an overwhelming awareness that there is a lot of work ahead, to achieve our mission of providing educational opportunities to all South Sudanese—One village at a time.

This trip will help guide HOPE for Ariang Foundation’s work in 2018. We are working on a few short-term immediate projects as well as long-term investment projects. Three specific projects that I am most excited for are:

  • New Uniforms and Shoes for our students

A uniform is a powerful tool for establishing a sense of community and belonging. When a student has a uniform, he or she walks to school with pride and dignity, showing others in the community that they are part of Ariang Primary School. It creates equality among students. Students feel more equipped and ready to learn each day. Currently, most students at Ariang School do not have uniforms or proper shoes to wear.  Students, teachers, and the community asked over and over for more uniforms for students.

Our goal is to raise $15,000 to be able to give out 700 uniforms and shoes in 2018.

  • Bikes for Teachers

Teachers face similar challenges to students and have to walk long distances to the school. With added family responsibilities, it becomes even more challenging for them to arrive at school early or on time for lessons. With a bicycle, they will be able to arrive at school early enough prepare their lessons for the day.

Our goal is to raise $5,400 for 18 bicycles.

  • Teacher Training

The long-term investment in Ariang School is in equipping our teachers with the best teaching tools possible. There isn’t a quick fix for teacher training. It will take time, resources, and consistent follow-up to help develop our teachers. However, the impact of it is significant. When the quality of teaching improves at the school, it impacts student learning and performance.

We are partnering with Dignitas, a Kenya based organization that has been doing teacher training in community schools throughout Nairobi’s informal settlements (slums) for the past seven years. They have refined their program to successfully transform schools through investment in teachers. We are excited for the ways that they will help develop and grow our Ariang Primary School teachers in 2018.

Our goal is to raise $30,000 for teacher training.

I invite you to be part of these three exciting programs and others in 2018. You can donate online or mail a donation here. Your support allows us to keep doing this important work of transforming a community through one little school. Thank you for enabling us to do so!

Sincerely,

Elizabeth Deng

Walk A Mile in My Shoes

As one of the only Primary Schools in the area, most students walk up to 2 hours a day to reach school. Without proper footwear, the long trek can be difficult and sometimes even dangerous.

HOPE for Ariang Foundation seeks to reduce the barriers for students to receive a quality education.With this purpose in mind, it is our goal to provide every student at Ariang School with a new pair of shoes during the 2018 academic school year.

Our Plan: HOPE for Ariang will purchase high-quality shoes in Nairobi, Kenya to be able to get to school each day and will last until they outgrow them.

We are so excited to announce that our shoe initiative is completely funded as of January 2018! Thanks to many generous supporters who donated between $5 and $2,000, we will be able to provide each student with a new pair of sturdy shoes in 2018.

We are currently working on the logistics of delivering the shoes, but we look forward to sharing about the distribution!