3. New (January 2010) pictures from Pajut - Moses' School project
Click on picture to enlarge
Moses Joknhial II’s dream of helping the children and adults receive an education in his native village in South Sudan is being fulfilled, thanks to the generosity and fundraising efforts of many parishioners in the Diocese of South Dakota. Construction of the school building is well underway with plans for the school to be completed during the next dry season (January - April, 2010).
Beginning last January, Moses spent three months in his native village implementing and overseeing his project’s activities. Reuniting with his father, family, and villagers for the first time since he was forced to flee from his village and country in 1987 was celebrated for days with praises to God for his safe return.
Upon returning to Sioux Falls in April, Moses was pleased to report the school foundation has been completed and half of the concrete blocks for constructing the walls have been made. Under Moses’s supervision, construction of the school will resume in January with completion expected in April and costing $35,000. A water well at the site of the school was completed on February 20, 2009, with funds generously provided by the community of Watertown, SD. Additional water wells are needed to serve the size of his community at $13,000 per well. Two automated corn grinding mills have been provided through the generosity of two families and are key in helping girls attend school. A third grinding mill is being sought at a cost of $2500.
With joyful singing, dancing, and prayers, the Christians of his community expressed their gratitude to their brothers and sisters in the United States for providing them with educational opportunities and improvements for their future. 2009 is a memorable year to them as they see hope of a better life for the first time in decades. 2009 is a memorable year for Moses as he reunited with his father and family for the first time in decades and sees his mission of helping provide a better life for his people being fulfilled.
We also express our gratitude to all of you for your support of Moses’s project. Every gesture of help from you makes a world of difference to them. Please let us know if you would like additional project information or would like to have Moses visit your church, school, or service organization.
Donations are still needed for building costs and ongoing expenses.
Donations marked "South Sudan Education" can be sent to
The Diocese of South Dakota
500 S. Main Avenue
Sioux Falls, SD 57104-6814
Moses was lifted upon someone's shoulders and a parade of thousands of people, flags, dancing, and cheering overtook
us as we arrived in Moses' home village.
It was a special time when Moses' father came forth to meet him. Of all these people, Moses recognized only his father as he had seen a photo of him; otherwise, everyone else was a stranger, including his brothers and sisters.
overwhelming for Moses but he handled it well and gave an inspiring talk
to the community and students.
Here the crowd listens to Moses' every word
The children love the school bags, pens, pencils, letters from Americans and performed for us with much joyful singing.
At the 2007 State Diocesan convention, Moses Joknhial II’s project “Rebuilding South Sudan through Education” was launched. Asked when he would like to have enough funds raised to return to his homeland to begin construction, Moses responded, “December, 2008.” His dream will be fulfilled as he embarks December 29th on this journey. I have the good fortune to accompany him during the first month. Moses remains until mid-April to oversee the construction efforts.
Travel plans begin with two days in Nairobi, Kenya, to gather supplies, followed by a day trip to the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya where Moses lived for a decade prior to his arrival to the USA in 2001. At the camp, he will provide food supplies to tribal family members, who still remain in the camp.
From Kenya, a chartered flight will fly us and Kenyan contractors directly to his village of Pajut, located within the community of Panyang, South Sudan. In his village, Moses will be reunited with his father and other family members for the first time since he had to flee in 1987. Village leaders will gather for a celebration to mark the place where the school building, water well, and grinding mill will be built.
Drilling the water well will be first priority. The well is being provided by the community of Watertown, SD, whose campaign “Well Water from Watertown” and slogan of 12,000 people donating $1 successfully raised the funds needed to bore the well. Members of Trinity Episcopal Church were instrumental in organizing these efforts and are commended for their outstanding charity.
When the water well is completed, the work of building the school and grinding mill will begin with school building plans kindly provided by Randall Stanley Architects, Sioux Falls. Skilled workers from Nairobi and Khartoum will be employed along with help from local villagers. Materials and building supplies will be obtained from neighboring Uganda.
The automated grinding mill is important in allowing girls an education. Currently, their day is spent grinding their staple food corn by hand. In Moses’s words, the automated mill “frees girls to attend classes.”
Fundraising efforts have exceeded expectations with over $80,000 collected. This figure surpasses the initial goal, but is certainly welcome and necessary, due to increased costs since initial estimates were made.
Our diocese has contributed significantly to our fundraising efforts and has provided support in a multitude of ways, including church contributions, special offerings, youth fundraisers, and an ECW statewide “bake sale”. The project has also received broad support from churches of other denominations, service clubs, and schools. To engage young people, Moses’s campaign “Coins for Classrooms” has received great support involving vacation Bible schools, Sunday schools, public and private schools.
Moses will take 350 school bags to present as gifts to the students in his village. These bags were made by the women of Oaklane Hutterite Colony, Alexandria, SD. Sunday school children from Abiding Savior’s Free Lutheran Church in Sioux Falls, have written letters to include in the bags as an outreach mission, connecting children with children.
In the photo above, Moses speaks to a Vacation Bible School Class.
He is wearing a
"blanket" and explaining to the children that this is
the only clothing he and his parents had to wear.
Moses’s school project has been described as “having a life of its own.” Indeed! Special thanks are extended to everyone, who has played a part in this and helping Moses’s dream and project goals a reality. Please offer your prayers for safe travel and good fortune for this worthy mission.
Donations marked "South Sudan Education" can be sent to
The Diocese of South Dakota
500 S. Main Avenue
Sioux Falls, SD 57104-6814
Moses Joknhial II, a Sudanese refugee and now a U.S. citizen, and his sponsors (Tania Hicks, Rhonda Morse, and Fr. Warren Shoberg) have been traveling the diocese to talk about his effort to build a simple school in South Sudan, in work that was begun at Holy Apostles, Sioux Falls.
The project goal is to construct a permanent school building in his home community of Panyang, South Sudan, Africa, nurturing peace and rebuilding people’s lives through education after 21 years of Civil War which killed 2 million people, displaced 4 million more, and virtually destroyed the country’s infrastructure and economy.
Because of that war, Moses was forced to leave his family and country when he was nine years old. He lived in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya for 14 years. Because of it, he and 2.5 million others did not receive basic education. In 2001, he was one of about 3500 “Lost Boys of Sudan”, who was given a permanent home in the United States through a refugee resettlement program. Since his arrival, he has availed himself of many educational opportunities and expresses his gratitude for these.
Sudan’s Civil War ended in 2005. With peace, people are returning to their destroyed villages. With peace, the opportunity is now for these people to rebuild their lives and communities. Through his own experience, Moses believes education is of utmost importance in helping his people in this process.
In his home village in South Sudan, school is held outdoors under shade trees. Classes are usually dismissed from April-November because this is the rainy season. A permanent school building will enable students to attend school year round. Through education, people’s lives and communities can be rebuilt and peace sustained.
The school building will consist of eight classrooms and one administrative office for the teachers, and will provide primary education for males and females, children and adults. The building will cost approximately $50,000, and an additional $12,000 will provide for the construction of a bore hole for a supply of clean water for the school and the surrounding community.
Construction is planned to begin in December, 2008, when Moses hopes to visit his home village for a few months to oversee the project during its initial construction.
Please join Moses in fulfilling his goal by contributing toward the costs of construction, making others aware of his project, offering your time and talents. Tax deductible donations may be made to the Diocese of South Dakota, earmarked “South Sudan Education.”
Ronda Morse (one of Moses’ sponsors)
Holy Apostles Church
1415 S. Bahnson
Sioux Falls, SD 57103
Here's what some people are doing --
“Rebuilding South Sudan Through Education”
The project “Rebuilding South Sudan Through Education” created by Moses Joknhial II, is a project designed to build a school in Moses’ home village in the Sudan. He left his village at age 9 and was a Lost Boy of the Sudan until he came to the United States in 2001. He has received his education here in the United States and is desirous of giving back to his community. The presentation he gives is so moving that help for this project seems to have a life of its own. Everyday I find new people willing to lend a hand to fundraising or other help.
The students at Hanson School in Alexandria, SD have taken on many fundraising events to help Moses Joknhial’s Rebuilding the Sudan project. Moses came and spoke to the students on March 18 and since then the students have been working hard to raise money for his project.
The sixth grade girls were inspired by his presentation and approached me about a fund-raising effort. They were most anxious that the girls in the Sudan be given a chance for an education...they couldn’t imagine not being equal to or better than the boys! After working through several ideas, they settled on a penny drive. They will be working from April 7 to May 1 and have challenged the school to see which class will bring in the most pennies. They are graphing the coins by weight to see who the “winner” will be. They are very excited about the idea of helping and couldn’t wait to get started. Every Friday they collect the buckets and weigh them before school. So far, they have collected 103 pounds of assorted change and many dollars in bills. One of the staff members took a flyer and a bucket to work and is collecting money there, as well. The two Hutterite Colonies served by the school are also participating in the coin drive.
The Student Council has jumped into the project as well and will be sponsoring a Pizza Hut night, where 20% of the night’s proceeds goes to Moses’ project. They are excited about helping and contributing to this global project.
All of the students have been so willing to work and contribute. It has been amazing to watch this project grow. As people hear of the story, they are more than willing to lend a hand. The parable of “give and you shall receive” is never more true than in this story. Moses gave of himself and his story and people are so willing to see he receives the help he needs, which in turn will help the people of a small village in Africa.
At St. Mary’s Church in Mitchell, there are ongoing projects to benefit this cause as well. There are coffee sales going on which benefit two causes. The coffee is bought from Mexico, where independent farmers are creating a market for themselves and improving life in their village. When the coffee is purchased, the price of the coffee is returned to the farmers and the profit goes to benefit the Sudan project. Parishioners are also purchasing note cards which will benefit the project. Recently, the Outreach Committee voted to continue its support of the project when the school is built by sending needed supplies to the school children and to support Moses as he begins his project.
This project is on-going and all of our hands and hearts are needed to make it succeed. Moses will be leaving in December 2008 to begin the building of the school and we need to see that he has the materials and money he needs to realize his dream.
This project has such a life of its own...won’t you find a way to help?
Margaret J. Muller
K-6 Special Education Teacher
Hanson School District 30-1
Alexandria, SD 57311