October 2015 Updates
The rainy season in South Sudan is coming to a close. Marsh areas are drying and the school farm has been harvested to feed students for the rest of the school year. The academic year comes to a close in November. Twelfth grade students have begun studying for their national secondary school exam. Each year, MBSS is graduating more and more students who will pass their exam and achieve the rare honor of a secondary school certificate.
While the VAD Foundation is incredibly proud of the growth of MBSS and the many lives they have changed, South Sudan as a whole is facing tragic challenges. Still, only 2% of children 14-17 are enrolled in a secondary school program nationwide. Some states are continually facing violence, which has closed hundreds of schools and displaced two million civilians. Marial Bai is in a peaceful area, but economic crisis and shortages of goods have affected every city, town, and village in the country.
Nicholas Kristof, New York Times columnist and author, visited Marial Bai in June. He witnessed the conditions that the collapsing economy and scarcity of food has caused for locals.Take a look at his video. Recent news of an impending famine, remind us of the incredible need not only for emergency relief aid, but also for programs that focus on creating long term solutions for locals. Marial Bai Secondary School continues its commitment to providing nutrition and safe facilities for students and teaching life skills for after their secondary education. With the highest enrollment to date the school farm had its largest harvest this year. A great success, but the struggle to buy food locally and affordably was also at its greatest making the nutritional program the largest expense during the academic year.
The VAD Foundation has been working with amazing individuals and organizations to raise awareness for the issues affecting students in South Sudan. In September, Valentino Achak Deng visited New York with many international leaders to stand #UpforSchool, a movement to get the 59 million children worldwide who are out of school enrolled in a primary or secondary program.
In November, Dave Eggers and Valentino Deng are visiting Memphis, TN. Memphis has chosenWhat is the What as this year's book for the city-wide book club. If you are in the Memphis area, look at the Memphis Reads Events page. Valentino is also partnering with the talented musician Pete Yorn, for a special intimate event in downtown Los Angeles. To attend this event that will support the drilling of a much needed new well in Marial Bai, you can get tickets through the VAD Foundation Facebook page.
Thank you for your ongoing support and sharing the stories of students at Marial Bai Secondary School with your family, friends, and social networks!
The VAD Foundation
Staff and Students