Contributor's Elbow Chuol

Nyamal Koang Dei: “Under this Nip tree I will build a library”

This is a story of a South Sudanese woman whose dedication to educate children remained a conviction throughout. She is setting up a library for the South Sudanese refugee in Gambella, Western Ethiopia.  

By Elbow Chuol,

July 24, 2017(Nyamilepedia) —– Are you an observer of the law? The law in the universe that says the more you give the more you get? Perhaps, it is in giving that we get more. But have you ever thought of helping a person in need? Of course, yes. We sometimes think and wanted to help someone in need. However, this remains a word to many until that day we breathed our last breath. And we wonder why people will never remember us after we are gone. In fact, millions throughout the centuries wouldn’t mention us. Why is this happening? Because we are not the keeper of the law-the law in the universe which says; it is in giving that we received.

When Nyamal Koang Dei saw three kids reading under a Nip tree from torn exercise books nearly having no pages at all, she knew her longtime dream of setting up a library is coming to reality. This is what she wanted, building a library is one of the greatest desires she kept as a promise.

Born in Ulang, more than 32 years ago, and now preoccupied with a lot of things to achieve, building a library for thousands of South Sudanese displaced refugee children in Gambella, Western Ethiopia top her programs. Too many responsibilities, but she is treating each program one at a time.  

Equipped with t-shirts, children’s stories books, countless pencils, and three bags full of backpacks ready for distribution, kids were dancing in the rain while others proud themselves with green t-shirts bearing the name South Sudan READS. Tears rolled down her cheeks, the tears of joy and mixed of sadness. She knew this is her purpose!

“This is what I ever wanted”, she told a man who accompanied her to school. They were not enough. The children are too many for the few she brought. But something bigger than that held her on, considering those beautiful faces of these kids with ecstasy made her feel stronger. A spirit she must retain to help her keep going. A strong woman and she know it.

Not bad. She bought them balls to warms them up before erecting a roof where they will be reading and later plays their games knowing their books are safe in the library. She washed their wounds, applying her health knowledge. It was a great day for the children, putting smiles on their faces. The next day when she came to the same site, children moved out in large numbers shouting her name, “Nyamal!  Nyamal!”. Such a beautiful name will never disappear in their memories.

She acquired a bachelor degree from North Dakota State University in health education and Community health, with majored in child development. Inspired to do more, she is doing her master degree in Public Health, hoping to work with United Nations in future.  

“I should finish with this; a master degree in public health is everything to everything I have to do for humanity. I wanted to work with the United Nations- I am an activist you know, I dream of changing lives,” while looking at the kids who just received their pastels and t-shirts. Ms. Dei has begun her journey three years ago. And now she is in the middle of her dream with hope to change the lives of these little ones lacking a place to read from their torn exercises.  

In moment like this back in South Sudan, nothing awakens her spirit. Ms. Dei found herself one morning screaming in the village of her grandfather, Wec Deng Nyang, few hundred miles north of Nasir in 1991. Her village was razed to ground with dead bodies all over. The images of those people lying on the ground never escaped her mind. She hates war and fear guns a lot.

“They had guns and I feared guns. I want to replace those guns in their hands with books to read one day,” She recalled. Time to change guns into books!

After hundreds of miles South East of the Sudan, finally arrived in Ifo refugee camp North-Western Kenya where thousands of Sudanese refugees camped, escaped from the war-torn country.

Life in the refugee camp taught her a lot. Though she was a child at a time, the memories of her childhood, no schooling, bear footing still hits her mind; she doesn’t want another child going through. She must do everything to make sure this dream of a library materialized. And she is taking the first step of the staircase. She travel back home to find a place to setup the library.

“I am dedicated to builds them a library. I want them to have what I don’t have when I was a child”, she retold her childhood memories.

Living in the camp with no hope, a good Samaria listened to her story she finally made it to the United States and after 20 years she returned home to do her best for her people. Like anything the world has ever seen, Ms. Dei like many others before her, she is boarding the giant ship in participating to contribute to humanity-transforming the lives of the others.  

Few years ago, her mother passed on. Growing up in the West without her Mum forced Ms. Dei to faced life’s untold stories. One thing she learned out of her experience without her parents around is observing the law of hard work. And she is who she is today because of her self-confidence believing in the beauty of her dreams, living in the land of men and women, where anything that is ever thought of, comes to life. Her Mum must have been proud of her. Unfortunately she is doing this alone without her.

“I missed her. She loved people. Whenever I sent her money back in the days, she gave them out to the people in need. I think we share this unbreakable bond.” Ms. Dei recalled.

A month ago, she visited South Sudan’s Pagak and talked with the local but first she must setup a library in Gambella, Western Ethiopia were hundreds of South Sudanese refugees who escaped the current South Sudan crisis camping.  

The authority in Gambella gave her the legal documents for the land she is planning to build a library on. The same tree these three kids seating to catch up with the hot sun and glued onto their books, she couldn’t look elsewhere. This is the perfect place for her dream. Standing tall in the land given to her to builds the library; she looked around and smiles,

“Under this Nip tree I will build a library”, while observing the land in excitement.

Ms. Dei and her team need more than $100,000 funding to put the whole thing up. She is doing all she can to make that dream of building a library real. Next month she is holding a fundraising for the South Sudan READS Library Project, 12 of August 2017 at Addis Ababa Restaurant, E Lake ST, Minneapolis, MN https://www.facebook.com/SouthSudanREADS.

The video she uploaded recently in Face book went viral. She scheduled another fundraising in September in Omaha, Nebraska.

“I hope friends will turn up”, The little you are going to put into this charity box-you are educating thousands of South Sudanese who are having no place to read”, She wrote in an email she sent to me three days ago.

Ms. Dei who traveled to South Sudan and Ethiopia in May this year have returned to US the same month after she got the legal documents and a land to builds her first dream library for the children in Gambella.

“You know I have to returns to US as soon as possible to inform my friends and the people concerning this development-the land which the library will be built.”

And next month’s fundraising meant everything to put up the infrastructure of the library in Gambella. She just need a little of your time to observe the law.

South Sudan READS (https://ssreads.org) is non-governmental Organization legally registered in US with a vision to see South Sudan literacy skills increased through education outreach and empowerment by learning, leading and teaching. Nyamal Koang Dei is the Founder and the Executive Director of the South Sudan READS.

Elbow Chuol can be reached via elbow.chuol@gmail.com

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