The Power of Hope
On November 30th in Moore Hall II, the Balfour Office for Multicultural Activities and the Global Studies Department featured The Power of Hope, an inspiring lecture by Gabriel Bol Deng, a Lost Boy of Sudan.
Gabriel, along with a few other lost boys, have created a non-profit humanitarian organization called Hope for Ariang, an organization dedicated to providing educational opportunities and health services for the Sudanese people adversely affected by the ongoing conflict in Sudan. Hope for Ariang also seeks to restore and empower Sudanese through education, with a special emphasis on education for young girls in Sudan. They have also created a documentary titled Rebuilding Hope that profiles their lives as they return to South Sudan in hopes of discovering whether their homes and families have survived, what the current situation is in South Sudan, and also how they can help their community rebuild after the civil war.
Gabriel has overcome unbelievable obstacles. He was 10-years-old when North Sudanese Arab militiamen led a violent attack on his village in South Sudan. He fled, not knowing the whereabouts of his parents or siblings. After his escape, Gabriel embarked on a harrowing, four month journey across the Nile River and the untold miles of desert, surviving disease and paralyzing hunger to reach Ethiopia.
While at the Dimma Refugee Camp in Ethiopia, Gabriel first learned English by writing on cardboard with pieces of charcoal. Four years later, he fled from violence again, leaving Ethiopia and traveling cross-country to Kenya, where with the help of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Gabriel received an education at the Kakuma Refugee Camp.
In 2001, Gabriel came to the United States, and along with other Sudanese refugees he received help resettling in New York State. After settling in Syracuse in 2001, Gabriel earned an Associate's of Arts degree in Mathematics and Science at Onondaga Community College in 2004. He then continued with his education at Le Moyne College where he graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Mathematics Education and Philosophy, in 2007.
In May 2007, Gabriel returned to South Sudan after 20 years to search for his family, a journey documented in his film Rebuilding Hope. Upon his return, he founded Helping Offer Primary Education (HOPE) for Sudan with a mission to provide educational opportunities and health services to Sudanese people adversely affected by political turmoil in Sudan. Gabriel has thrived in the United States and is now working to help his village enhance their education by building, maintaining and supporting the Ariang School. He strongly believes that education is key to achieving lasting peace and development in his native Sudan.
He has built a reputation as an informative and passionate public speaker in an effort to create awareness of the suffering of the millions of people in his native Sudan. He was a featured guest at the United Nations' Week of Spirituality, Values & Global Concerns held in October, 2008 when he joined human rights activists Jacqueline Murekatete of Rwanda as war and genocide survivors, to examine "The Consciousness of Human Rights: The Transformative Moment." He proceeded to share defining moments that occurred in the midst of unspeakable suffering which transformed his life and turned it into a beacon of hope and inspiration for many others around the world.
He has spoken at over 300 venues to people of all ages about his life experiences and the ongoing crises in Sudan. Some of these engagements include United Nations, Cornell University, American University, Eastern Connecticut State University, Seton Hall University, Model United Nations Clubs, Amnesty International Chapters, Rotary Clubs, congregations, high schools, elementary schools, and many others.