July 2016 Updates
July 9, 2016 marked the fifth anniversary of South Sudan’s Independence. On behalf of Valentino and the people of South Sudan, the VAD Foundation would like to share some good news with you about our school and our hopes for the future.
Marial Bai Secondary School
MBSS continues strong with our eighth academic year. It’s a tremendous achievement, and we are delighted and grateful to our donor community whose sustained support and faith in our mission make our success possible. Your generosity has helped establish one of the best and holistic education centers in South Sudan.
Since opening in 2009, the VAD Foundation has served over 1,000 students, a veritable accomplishment that our donors should celebrate. As we continue to provide a safe place of learning, meals, housing, books, teachers, and opportunities for many children and communities in the country, please consider making a contribution today.
A Year of Growth
This year marks the beginning of the next phase in our growth plan. The VAD Foundation is raising funds for and is planning for a vocational school to provide MBSS graduates and community members with job training opportunities. The vocational school will teach necessary skills that are relevant to the local economy, foster entrepreneurship, and support young people to start their own small businesses that are essential to grow the local economy. MBSS will continue to include integrated vocational training in the secondary school curriculum, while the planned vocational school will work on larger projects for full-time, hands-on learning of specific trades.
The VAD Foundation is also exploring partnership opportunities with universities and colleges in the country, the region and the world, so that we can provide MBSS graduates and qualified young people in South Sudan with scholarships to pursue higher education.
A Year of Transition
As we continue to grow and embark on large and impactful projects, the VAD Foundation needs a strong team to implement its mission. This summer, we hired two new talented and qualified people to lead our US Office in San Francisco.
Yvonne Chen, Director of Development and US Operations
A passionate advocate for economically disadvantaged people in developing countries, Yvonne looks forward to her role as Director of Development and US Operations. She joins the VAD Foundation because of its proven ability to make a lasting impact on quality education in South Sudan. Her work at the Foundation will be focused on optimizing the administrative systems and taking fund development activities to new heights. Prior to joining VAD Foundation, Yvonne lived and worked abroad. She was a policy advisor at USAID in Indonesia and Partnerships Manager at the Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV), where she raised over $1M in annual revenue for deforestation-free supply chain projects. She has also worked as a freelance consultant on strategy, M&E and proposal writing. Yvonne holds a Master’s of International Development Studies from The Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University and a political science degree from Middlebury College.
Nyuol Lueth Tong, Development Associate
Born in South Sudan, raised in Egypt, and educated in the United States, Nyuol has been part of the VAD Foundation and McSweeney’s since he was in high school. In summer 2009, while still attending a boarding school in Santa Barbara, CA, he interned at our US Office in San Francisco with Greg Larson, and acquired the skills he needed to build a primary school in his own village of Ayeit, about 30 miles away from Marial Bai, three years later. Nyuol joins the VAD Foundation because he shares Valentino’s passion and vision that it is only through educating the youth and empowering communities can South Sudan overcome the legacy of wars and end the cycle of violence and instability that has exposed its people to unspeakable suffering over the decades. He believes the VAD Foundation has the potential to grow and serve as a catalyst for lasting peace and development in South Sudan. Nyuol is a writer by profession, and the editor of the first-ever anthology of fiction from South Sudan, titled There is a Country, which is currently being taught at dozens of universities across the world. He is a student of South Sudan’s history and issues. Nyuol holds a Master's of Fine Art (MFA) from the prestigious Iowa Writers’ Workshop where he was a Truman Capote Fellow and Teaching-Writing Fellow, and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) from Duke University where he was a Reginaldo Howard Memorial Scholar.
MBSS is Safe
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 following the July 9th military clashes that broke out in Juba following a months-long ceasefire. While the clashes seem to be spreading into other parts of the country, there are no reports of violence in Lol State where MBSS is located. Valentino is in constant contact with the Marial Bai staff who are paying close attention to the situation. We hope President Kiir's July 11th executive order to end hostilities, a sentiment echoed by Vice President Machar, is genuine. We hold out hope that peace is on the horizon.
Your Actions Count
As always, the VAD Foundation is grateful for your ongoing support. Your donation makes sure that our students have a safe place of learning and the meals, housing, books, teachers, and opportunities that they need to succeed.
Stay connected to the VAD Foundation on social media--Visit our website for the latest news, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. One of the best ways to support our work is to share information about what is happening in South Sudan and the positive impact we, with your help, continue to make every day in South Sudanese communities.
The VAD Foundation
"We must provide children with education.
It's the best way to save them and for South Sudan to end the cycle of wars."
- UNICEF, July 11, 2016