Gabriel Bol Deng

Gabriel Bol Deng at the age of 10 fled his home village of Ariang in south Sudan in 1987 after it was attacked by North Sudanese Murahileen militiamen. He fled, not knowing the fate of his parents or siblings. After his escape, Deng embarked on a harrowing, four-month journey across the Nile River and untold miles of desert, surviving disease and paralyzing hunger to reach Ethiopia. While at a refugee camp in Ethiopia, Gabriel first learned English by writing on cardboard with pieces of charcoal. Four years later, he fled from violence again, leaving Ethiopia and traveling cross country to Kenya, where he lived and continued his primary and secondary education. It was in the refugee camps that Deng first realized the importance of literacy.

Now a graduate of LeMoyne College, he is the founding director of the “HOPE for Ariang Foundation.” Its mission is to promote peace in South Sudan by educating its children and empowering women by providing economic opportunities, beginning with his native village of Ariang. He believes education not only offers a brighter future to the children of Ariang village, but also is the key to achieving lasting peace and sustainable development in South Sudan and the developing world.