Some thirty thousand young boys in South Sudan were orphaned by civil war in the late '80s. They grew up in a refugee camp in Kenya.
Their reality was suffering and uncertainty. More than half perished from disease, starvation, animal attacks, and from soldiers from the North.
But in 2001, 3,000 were resettled to the US and Canada. Forty "Lost Boys" ranging in age from 18 to 22 came to Charlotte.
One young man, James Lubo Mijak, became friends with the Phillips Bragg Family through St. John's Baptist Church.
Lubo worked at Presbyterian Hospital and at Bragg Financial.
He graduated from UNC Charlotte in 2008 and returned to his home village in South Sudan in 2008.
It was his first time being "home" since he fled at age 8, twenty years prior.
Lubo found a desperate situation in his village of Nyarweng - hunger, disease, and a literacy rate of less than 15%. His people longed for schooling for the children.
Lubo stayed in his village for months, teaching under the shade trees.
He returned to Charlotte with a mission in mind and driven by his conviction that "From Education Comes Wisdom, and From Wisdom, Peace."
Lubo presented his idea to Phillips and together they committed to make his dream a reality.
They soon found an excellent 501c3 partner in Mothering Across Continents, developed a plan to build a school, and began telling the story.
Lubo shared his story with schools, churches, civic clubs, and individual donors all over Charlotte and the surrounding communities.
With the help of the in-country partner, World Relief, construction on a four-classroom building, teachers' quarters, latrines, an office and storage began in 2012.
People who heard the story were inspired by the story of "The Lost Boys," a story of hope and perserverance, a story that continues to this day.
As South Sudan is the newest country in the world, the going was very slow. Patricia Shafer, Chief Catalyst of Mothering Across Continents, often equates it to "trying to build on the moon."
One village elder described the building as "the first permanent structure in Nyarweng since the beginning of man."
The school contstruction was completed in 2013, but much work is still needed to make the school effective and sustainable.
The school has improved markedly each year but when Lubo became the full time Country Director for Raising South Sudan in 2015, attendance and expectations took a major step forward.
At the end of the 2015 school year, the enrollment was 157 students. At the beginning of the 2016 school year in March, the number had swelled to 350 students!
The community, with its own labor and expense, is adding a pre-school to the campus.
The Nyarweng Primary School has become a model community school. Raising South Sudan supports two schools and children from three villages in Parieng County, Ruweng State, South Sudan.
Lubo is grateful for his friends in Charlotte.
Thank you for taking the time to learn about this project. To learn more or to help make the school truly GREAT, please visit Raising South Sudan at www.motheringacrosscontinents.org/RaisingSouthSudan.