Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Valentino Achak Deng

Country of origin: Sudan

Valentino Achak Deng, co-founder, was born in Southern Sudan, in the village of Marial Bai. He fled Sudan in the late 1980’s during civil war, when his village was destroyed by murahaleen—the same type of militia that currently terrorize Darfur. Deng spent nine years in Ethiopian and Kenyan refugee camps, where he worked for the UNHCR as a social advocate and reproductive health educator. In 2001 he resettled to Atlanta. Deng has toured the country speaking about his life in Sudan, his experience as a refugee, and his collaboration with author Dave Eggers on What Is the What, the novelized version of Deng’s life story. As a leader in the Sudanese diaspora, Deng advocates for the universal right to education and the freedom of his people in Sudan. In 2006, Deng and Eggers established the Valentino Achak Deng Foundation to help rebuild Sudanese communities by increasing access to educational opportunities. The Foundation’s first major initiative is to create a viable and community-driven educational center in Marial Bai.

This is from the The Valentino Achak Deng Foundation website, which is "a nonprofit organization working to increase access to education in post-conflict Southern Sudan by building schools, libraries, teacher-training institutes, and community centers."

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