Middle school students at Colorado Academy (CA) have raised funds to support the education of Aguil Lual Deng since 2008, a commitment that continues to this day. This support of a South Sudanese orphan was inspired by a talk by Arok Garang about his experiences as a Lost Boy and his efforts to educate South Sudanese orphans in Kenya. Encouraged by science teacher Sue Counterman, the students have been raising $1,200 a year to support her tuition, books, housing, food, medical care, and more.
Aguil was born in South Sudan in 2001, but lost her parents to the genocide.
Members of the South Sudanese community brought her to the Kakuma Refugee Camp in northwest Kenya, now teeming with nearly 200,000 refugees.
In late 2008, the child’s fortunes changed as she was selected to be part of the Seeds of South Sudan program. Aguil traveled from the Kakuma Refugee Camp to Nakuru, Kenya, where she joined a small group of orphans in SoSS. She was one of the first females to participate.
Aguil began her primary education at Roots Academy, considered the top boarding school in the area. “On our trip in July 2017,” Sue writes, “we met with current students and talked with the Headmaster, who showed us Aguil’s recognition and awards, which included election as head girl of the school of almost 1000 in her final year. Aguil’s superior ranking in the country at the termination of her primary school education at Roots had made the local paper and was posted in the headmaster’s office. Of more than 900,000 students in Kenya taking the primary school final exam, Aguil was one of 5,000 with a top score! Clearly, she is an exceptional young woman.”
The third week in July 2017, Sue, Arok and Roger Vadeen traveled to one of the top girls school in Kenya, Njonjo Girls High School. Students were preparing for exams that would take place the final week of July. The headmaster only allowed them 15 minutes with Aguil, despite their having traveled more than an hour east of Nakuru to visit with her.
“In our short visit, Aguil expressed her thanks to everyone who has supported her at CA, assured us that she will continue to do her very best to succeed in high school, and encouraged CA students to do their very best in their own academic careers,” Sue continued. Aguil’s goal is to become a medical doctor in order to help citizens of her country. She also expressed a desire to one day visit and thank personally all those who have supported her at CA.
“Aguil’s grit and perseverance serve as a tremendous example of the power of education to transform a life, and in the process to contribute to a sustainable future,” Sue writes. “Aguil is tenacious about her goal to pursue medicine as her best contribution to the future of South Sudan. As I left Njonjo Girls High School I vowed to return for her high school graduation in 2020 before launching Aquil on the next phase of her education, medical school.”