FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Yvonne Chen, the VAD Foundation
WHAT IS THE WHAT HERO AVAILABLE
FOR INTERVIEWS WITH THE PRESS
Sept. 19—The hero of the Dave Eggers’ autobiographical novel “What is the What” is a hero to a country that has known only war. His school, a Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action, prevents military recruitment of boys, and is tackling early marriage by increasing girls’ access to schooling.
Deng will be attending the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in New York City Sept. 19 – Sept. 21 and is available for interviews with the press.
Potential topics for press interview:
South Sudan “Five Years after Independence”
Girls’ education and child marriage in South Sudan
Education in emergencies
Science Technology Engineering Math (S.T.E.M.) education
Role of vocational education and cottage industries during economic crises in South Sudan (general)
Education in South Sudan
Food insecurity, famine and internal displacement in South Sudan
South Sudan diaspora
About South Sudan Today: Five Years After Independence
· According to a report by Oxfam, people are poorer now than they were a decade ago.
· In the last two years, South Sudan slashed its health and education budgets.
· Doctors are on strike because they haven't been paid in months. Public clinics have no medicine.
· Almost all of the schools have closed. The VAD Foundation’s privately funded Marial Bai Secondary School is one of the few that remains open.
· Two million citizens have been displaced, thousands killed, and almost half of the nascent republic’s population—about 6 million people—are chronically hungry.
· The economy, which relies almost exclusively on oil revenues, is in tatters, with the global plunging of oil prices. Production during the war was also cut in half.
· The inflation has risen to 661.3%, increasing the prices of basic goods, which are already beyond the purchasing power of the average citizen.
· A new investigative report finds that the sale of arms and oil profits made during the war was used to profit the nation’s leaders.
· Foreign aid donors the World Bank and the IMF are hesitant to inject the direct budget support to jumpstart the economy.
· Although a tenuous peace agreement was signed in August 2015, and a transitional government of national unity was formed--the government is deeply divided. Both sides find it hard to live with the terms of the agreement, and fighting broke out again in July of this year.
About Valentino Achak Deng
Valentino Achak Deng is Co-Founder of the VAD Foundation, a nonprofit organization working in South Sudan to create community-driven development projects. Prior to establishing the VAD Foundation in 2006, Mr. Deng was a human rights activist and social advocate for freedom, the universal right to education and sustainable growth. Mr. Deng’s foundation, the VAD Foundation, has provided educational opportunities to over 2000 South Sudanese youth since its inception.
In 2014, Mr. Deng was appointed by the President of South Sudan as State Minister of Education for Northern Bahr el Ghazal State to spearhead reforms in the primary and secondary schools. Deng has partnered with many global organizations to promote youth empowerment and grassroots community development initiatives.
Governments and notable organizations such as the New York Times, Clinton Global Initiative, TED Talks, USAID African Leaders Summit and Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), UNICEF, Concern Worldwide, and UNHCR have featured Mr. Deng’s work. He has shared the stage with the leading world leaders and global decision makers to discuss pressing global issues of education, sustainable development, immigration and global peace. The Global Business Coalition for Education, headed by Former Spouse of the Prime Minister of the U.K., Sarah Brown, recognized and presented Valentino with an Outstanding Global Leadership Award in Education.
About the VAD Foundation’s Commitments to Action
In 2007, Mr. Deng, on behalf of the VAD Foundation, pledged $1.2 million to the Education partnership for Children in Conflict (EPCC) that was announced at the 2007 CGI Annual Meeting. The VAD Foundation fulfilled that commitment with the construction of the Marial Bai Secondary School, which is now in its eighth academic year. It is one of the few schools that have remained opened during the present conflict and educates large numbers of girls.
In 2015, the VAD Foundation made a Commitment to Action that will target 200 out of school youth in South Sudan, called “the South Sudan Employment Initiative”. To read more about the VAD Foundation and “the South Sudan Employment Initiative”, please visit www.vadfoundation.org.
About the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI)
Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), an initiative of the Clinton Foundation, convenes global leaders to create and implement solutions to the world's most pressing challenges. CGI Annual Meetings have brought together 190 sitting and former heads of state, more than 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEOs, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media. To date, members of the CGI community have made more than 3,500 Commitments to Action, which have improved the lives of over 430 million people in more than 180 countries. For more information, visit clintonglobalinitiative.org and follow us on Twitter @ClintonGlobal and Facebook at facebook.com/clintonglobalinitiative.