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.

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, lack of clean drinking water on the school premise made it difficult for girls to attend school and caused many children 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

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.”