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Story Publication logo January 7, 2010

Video: Rebuilding Hope - Follow Up 2009


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Gabriel Deng, Koor Garang and Garang Mayuol, Southern Sudanese "Lost Boys" in the U.S., were forced...

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In June, 2007, I accompanied Gabriel Bol Deng, Garang Mayuol and Koor Garang on their first trip back home to South Sudan after having fled brutal civil war twenty years earlier, as small children. They had been living in the U.S. since 2001, part of a group known as "The Lost Boys of Sudan." In addition to searching for their families and villages, there were several questions they were investigating: had the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, signed on January 9, 2005, led to greater peace and stability? Or was South Sudan on a slow slide back towards civil war? And—how could they help their communities rebuild after decades of devastating civil war?

Rebuilding Hope, the documentary film I shot during that trip, begins to answer those questions: the peace agreement is precarious, fraught with problems, and has not had a real impact on people's lives. At a village meeting, one woman answered said, "We're not running to the bush and we're not being shot…but nothing else has changed." The connection between peace and development, especially in health care and education, became very clear over the trip. Gabriel Bol summarized this relationship, saying, "Peace means development, peace means people go to school, peace means when you are sick, you get treatment. Health and education go hand in hand, they are not really separate things."

The young men left Sudan more determined than ever to contribute in ways that their community told them were vital. Gabriel Bol would build a school in his village. Garang would drill wells so there would be a clean water source in his and neighboring villages. Koor, studying to be a nurse, would seek to provide health care to the area.

In 2008 and 2009, Gabriel Bol, Koor and Garang all returned again to Sudan, to begin implementing their projects. I accompanied them in February, 2009. Above, is the video that shows the progress that the three of them have made on their health care and education projects since the filming of Rebuilding Hope.

(FOLLOW UP 2009)

Tomorrow, I will embark on my third trip to Akon, the area where Gabriel Bol, Garang and Koor are from. Gabriel has been there for a month, preparing for the groundbreaking for the school he is building. I am looking forward to documenting this next, exciting stage in his project, as well as getting a pulse of the situation on the ground, right at the five-year anniversary of the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and during the lead-up to Sudan's scheduled April 2010 elections.


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Peace Initiatives

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