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Anita with Achol’s dad
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Achol

There is a “Lawyer’s Hall of Fame.” Names appearing include Clarence Darrow, F. Lee Bailey, and Abraham Lincoln. Famous lawyers recognized on our television screens have been Perry Mason, Matlock, and pop culture favorite, Ally McBeal. I have not been able to locate a list of famous Sudanese lawyers. Yet. However, if I were looking into a crystal ball to predict the future, I think the name of one bright woman will be listed. Achol Deng.

Achol freely expresses her opinion. (Many teenage girls share that same trait.) She does not hesitate to question the status quo. She definitely embodies leadership. It doesn’t hurt that she stands well over six feet tall and naturally commands attention upon entering a room. My colleague, Diane, and I have said numerous times in the past, “she would make a good lawyer.”

While traveling in Warrap state to see Jimmy Makuach’s home area, deep in the heart of cattle country, we stopped in the office of a local village authority. Here they are called “payam administrators.” He recognized me. He reminded me that he was the father of an Africa ELI student. As I looked closely, I could see the resemblance of his daughter, Achol. What a pleasant surprise!

Of course, we talked about Achol, her performance at school and family matters. I asked him, “What is the biggest change you have seen in your daughter since she becamse a Africa ELI student?” He said, “She talks like you.” Translated, that means her English has improved. Actually, she didn’t even speak a word of English until beoming a Africa ELI student. She grew up speaking Arabic and has gained a strong control of the English language. (And if I have influenced her use of the words, “yee haw,” “darlin’,” or “y’all” then so be it.) But he sees the English language as her currency for success in the future.

When I asked him what he hopes his daughter chooses to become in the future, he replied, “I hope she becomes a famous lawyer.” No surprise there.

I think she can do it. And I believe she will do it. She’s closer now than ever before. In lieu of writing a love note to all the donors who help make it possible for Achol to stay in school, please accept this sincere, “thank you.” On behalf of Achol’s dad, Achol, and Africa ELI, we thank you for helping make dreams come true. I rest my case.

From Yei,
Anita

 

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