The Valentino Achak Deng 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.

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Update: Recent Clashes in Juba, School Not Directly Affected

In light of recent fighting in Juba, the VAD Foundation would like to inform our supporters and concerned friends of South Sudan that our school and the broader community of Marial Bai are safe. Although fighting seems to be spreading into other parts of the country, we are yet to hear reports of violence in Lol State where we are located.

Today President Kiir decreed an executive order ending hostilities and his counterpart Vice President Machar, the leader of the faction opposed to the government, echoed the message. We hope their efforts are genuine and will bring an end to this senseless fighting. The nascent republic cannot afford a return to the devastating civil war of the last three years.

Valentino, who is safe in Nairobi, says, "I am constantly in touch with the school administration and some connected personalities to help stay in the loop. I will provide appropriate safety measures if things get out of control." Valentino has advised the staff to stay vigilant and pay close attention to the situation as it unfolds. 

To better understand the recent clashes, please read this insightful article by Mahmood Mamdani. Dr. Mamdani is a member of the African Union's Commission of Inquiry (AUCISS) charged with investigating the conflict in South Sudan. 

Read about what the VAD Foundation accomplished in 2015 and what the future holds for the community and students served in South Sudan. 

South Sudan Independence Day

"What I pray that we do as leaders of this young nation is that we say stop to the violence, stop to anything that destroys a soul, look for a solution, and we can be like anybody." – Valentino Achak Deng