Lauren Servin, Class of 2009
Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow, NYU
Since 2005, I have worked closely with Abraham Awolich, the Director of SUDEF to plan and implement projects in the Southern Sudan village he was born in. We work with the local people on programs that they have identified as fulfilling their most immediate needs. We have established a small medical clinic, which serves 11 surrounding villages and is the only medical center within a hundred mile radius. We are currently building a maternal child health center to address Southern Sudan’s maternal and child mortality rates – the highest in the world. We are working to help reverse the mal-affects of war. Our larger goals are to build a community center where adults can access training with which they can use to regain livelihoods that have been lost. Because of over two decades of civil war, people living in southern Sudan have little to no access to basic services and generations have grown up with no education.
I first met Abraham in college. He would tell me horrific stories of his childhood. He is a part of a group known as the ‘Lost Boys’ of Southern Sudan and he ran from his village as the Northern Army was committing genocide against his people. He grew up in a refugee camp and was brought to the US in 2001. After hearing what he went through as a child, I wanted to do what I could to help him and his people have a better life. We decided to work together to create change in his country in 2005, after a peace agreement was signed between the north and the south. In 2006, I traveled to Southern Sudan and spent the next three years traveling back and forth between Southern Sudan and the US working on education and agricultural/entrepreneurial projects in the region. In 2008, I served as project manager for the development of a secondary school in Lainya County, Southern Sudan. We opened the school with 75 students and a 15-acre farm. I will continue to work with Abraham on programs in his village and am excited to work in the soon to be independent country of Southern Sudan.
I recently finished a short film about the Sudan Development Foundation’s work. (SUDEF). Visit www.sudef.org to watch, and to read more about SUDEF’s progress.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npOMvJUgcPQ&feature=player_embedded