The VAD Foundation

The VAD Foundation is a nonprofit organization working in South Sudan to create community-driven development projects. Established by Valentino Deng and Dave Eggers after the publication of What is the What, the Foundation's first major project is the construction and operation of an 18-structure educational complex in Valentino's hometown of Marial Bai, South Sudan.

Marial Bai Secondary School (MBSS) has increased access to excellent secondary education, trained teachers, created equal opportunities for girls, and promoted literacy for children and adults in the region. MBSS is the highest ranking South Sudanese secondary school that is free for students to attend, a true leader in the movement to educate the new nation of South Sudan. 

Find out more about South Sudan, VAD Foundation history, and those who make it possible.

Change a Life

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What are the top five things to at MBSS?
Gabriel: to attend classes, speak only English in the entire school, be in uniform during class hours, respect for all the teachers and non-teaching staffs, and clean the school compound.

What are the five top things that make your life harder in South Sudan?
Gabriel: lack of employment opportunities, corruption by leaders, poverty that is caused by war, and widespread of diseases.

What are the top five things that could make your life easier?
Gabriel: getting a good job, getting into a better university, be in good health, live comfortably without poverty, and have access to electronic materials.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
Gabriel: in five years, I will be a doctor if God allows me to enter into university. I will be helping my family with treatment. I will be working in a very respectful job, and I will have married and have a beautiful family.

How has MBSS improved your life and that of your family?
Gabriel: MBSS has improved my life to speak and write English well. This will help me in the future to get a job and assist my family. It has also improved my leadership qualities that will help me to lead fairly and humbly without arrogant

STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: Rebecca Adut Mathiang

In this time of tremendous challenges and uncertainty in South Sudan, it’s important to hold out hope that a brighter future still exists for this young nation. The VAD Foundation continues to invest in young people, providing them with quality education and skills in order to improve their lives and change their country for the better. Every single day, on MBSS campus, we see the promise of South Sudan in our students who are an inexhaustible source of inspiration. Their dreams are beautiful. 

Rebecca's Story in Her Own Words

I come to school to learn how to read and write and to speak with other people who do not know our local language. I also want to be an educated girl. In the future, I don’t want to be like my grandparents who do not know life in school.

My father is a soldier in the army. He has 6 wives and 23 children. He is the one who takes good care of us; sending all of us to school, so I know I should repay him.

At school, I like the way the teachers teach us. I appreciate them very much, that is why I put effort in to understand everything they teach me. I also read very hard to have a good position i class.

When I finish school, I want to be the minister of education and sports, and build a stadium in Marial Bai.

My biggest challenge is that my father wants to retire from his work, and I don’t know anyone who is going to take his place.

I like playing football and other activities.