My name is Franco Majok. I am originally from Southern Sudan and I am now a United States Citizen. I am married and have 3 children and I live in Lynn, Massachusetts.
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My father was a police officer who came from a very poor family. When the British came to our area in about 1921, my father left the village and went to town to work for the British. He married my mother and I have four brothers. Three are still alive, my brother Garang was killed during the civil war. My father had learned the value of education from the British. He was the only one in the village to send his children to school.
I became a refugee in 1983 when the civil war broke out between the northern government and the south. All high schools were closed. The Sudanese government targeted students from the south and it became very dangerous to live there. I used my education to escape to the North by reading maps and directions to get to a safe place.
In Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, I worked in a factory during the day and went to evening classes until I finished high school. When the situation in Khartoum became too dangerous, I fled to Egypt. Again, I benefited from my education: I know how to apply for a visa. In 1997, I applied for refugee resettlement through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). I was approved by the United States and transferred to a U.S. embassy for processing.
I came to the United States in September 1998 with my family and four relatives. My first job in the U.S. was a Houseman at the Seaport Hotel in Boston. After six months, I changed jobs and worked for the Department of Mental Retardation in a residential program for adults. In 2000, when the ‘Lost Boys of Sudan’ began to arrive in the United States, I applied and was hired as a bilingual, bi-cultural Case Manager with Lutheran Community Services.
In 2005, I received United States Citizenship. I received a U.S. passport and was able to travel safely back to Southern Sudan where I am from. I had not been ‘back home’ for 23 years. I first took a flight from Boston to Amsterdam for 7.5 hours and then boarded a flight from Amsterdam to Nairobi for an 8-hour flight. I then took an hour-long flight to the border of Sudan and Kenya. In Kenya, I took my final flight to Sudan, which lasted 3 hours. In the small village of Malulkon, someone gave me a ride in a car for an hour to a nearby town and I bicycled to my village of Wunlang which took me 6 hours. My total travel time was 26.5 hours!
In my village, I found the entire village desperately in need of food and education. As a local who grew up in the area, I decided that a focus on education would help the new generation at Wunlang
School. I believe in education because I benefited from it and education saved my life. I believe that education is central in order for Wunlang children to have their own sense of conditions. Otherwise, they have no future.
When I came back home to the Lynn, I set up a project to raise enough money to build eight classrooms and two offices for teachers in my village. I am asking people of goodwill in the America to help me achieve the dreams of building a new school for the children of Wunlang.
Please help me with this project. I need your help as individuals, as organizations, and with referrals to foundations to help fund this project. Wunlang will be a very different village when this goal is realized.
'Returning For Learning' in The Boston Globe
Franco Majok says education saved his life -- literally. It was his reading and other skills that helped him escape the civil war in Sudan ...
Click here to read the full article.
NPR's The World interviews Franco MajokHost Lisa Mullins speaks with former Sudanese child refugee Franco Majok. Majok has been living in the United States, but is now venturing back to his home village to help build a school. Click here to listen