Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Excel Academy and Africa ELI are covered by the Guardian

Thursday, October 30th, 2014
Excel Academy students

Excel Academy students


London news website the Guardian covered recent developments with Excel Academy and Africa ELI this week.

Author and Guardian contributor James Copnall posted this story on Tuesday.

James Copnall is the author of A Poisonous Thorn in our Hearts: Sudan and South Sudan’s Bitter and Incomplete Divorce. He was the BBC correspondent for Sudan and South Sudan 2009-12, based in Khartoum. He was previously the BBC correspondent for Ivory Coast and Morocco

An Excerpt…

School buildings with mud walls and metal roofs, in which as many as 150 students compete for the attention of the teacher, make an unlikely setting for a South Sudanese success story. Many of the pupils crammed into the basic classrooms are in their mid-20s; others have fled conflict. Education, like everything else in the country, was left in disarray by the two civil wars that led to South Sudan’s independence just over three years ago, and has been further disrupted by the new internal conflict that broke out in December. But despite its many challenges, the Excel Academy, situated in the verdant town of Yei, near the border with Uganda, shows what can be achieved.READ MORE

Beam Us Up!

Monday, September 29th, 2014

Greetings from Yei!

Our main Africa ELI education partner, Excel International Academy, has enough resources to construct a classroom building block and two dormitories to “beam level.” That means Excel personnel and Africa ELI donors have so far contributed enough money for brick-making, river sand, cement (345 very heavy sacks of cement!), foundation stones (even heavier than the cement bag!), one newly drilled water well, and local laborers to clear land, construct flooring, and set wall beams. Thank you!

Now we need three rooftops! We have to protect the children and teachers inside from the sun, rain, and windy dust storms! In talking with Mr. Kenneth Wani, the entrepreneurial founder and director of Excel International Academy (and Africa ELI employee from 2008-2013), a bare minimum of $25,000 will help us secure roofing materials for all three structures and pay the local laborers to continue construction.

In this instance, time is not our friend. Let’s review.

In 2008, Africa ELI donors constructed a large, rural high school campus in Mukaya. It was initially operated by Africa ELI personnel and has since been gifted back to the community for long-term sustainability. It is being run by a local school committee in cooperation with Excel International Academy personnel. The 2014 enrollment stands at 138 girls and boys. Africa ELI donors helped Excel to rehabilitate and open two additional campuses in Morobo and Yei, respectively. The Morobo campus is now under the operation of county officials and a local PTA. The Yei town campus sits on leased land from the local Episcopal diocese. The church wants the land back for their further development. Excel, nor Africa ELI, can afford the premium cost set for an extended lease. Purchasing the land is not an option. So, we have considered this challenging situation as an opportunity! (Making lemonade out of lemons!)

With appropriate legal documentation secured from the Jansuk community elders and local county officials, property of 200 x 250 Meters (approximately seven [7] acres) of affordable land has been purchased by Wani Kenneth Evans. It is approximately two miles from the current Yei town main campus.

The new school must be constructed and open by February 2015 in order to not disrupt the education of current Excel students.

Let’s rally to help construct these three rooftops! Please give today!

Give online here or send a check to: Africa ELI, 1550 Centervue Crossing #107, Knoxville, TN 37932.

Let’s do this! Beam us up!
From Yei,

P.S. – If you have ever given to Africa ELI school projects, try to match or increase your previous donations. If you have never given, but have thought about making a donation, now is the time for your action! Thank you!

BOD Majok, Lucy, Susan & Chris

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

Prefects take oath of office in South Sudan

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012
Democratically elected student leaders take the oath of office before their classmates and community members during an inauguration ceremony. In South Sudan, the young leaders are called “prefects.”

She’s a girl. She can read. In South Sudan that makes her special.

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Rachel is part of a very elite group of young women in The Republic of South Sudan. Her status does not come from family wealth nor does it come from tribal affiliation. Her affluence comes from being a girl enrolled in her final year of high school. Residing in a country where girls are more likely to die in childbirth than make it to grade 8 of school, she is only one month away from completing a high school education.
 In my work through Africa ELI, I first met Rachel in 2009. She became an Africa ELI sponsored student the following year. Rachel is not atypical of girls in South Sudan. Her father died during the wartime between South Sudan and its northern counterpart. Her widowed mother is not healthy enough to hold a job. An uncle cared for Rachel and her younger sister until he fell ill and died. The uncle’s wife now has responsibility for raising 7 children in her home, including Rachel.
Money to pay for school fees is scarce. But Rachel has dreams. One of those dreams is to graduate from high school. After secondary school, she wants to study law and become a lawyer.
Rachel’s access to school enrollment has been made possible by donors of Africa Education & Leadership Initiative. She knows that Africa ELI donors believe she has a right to be educated. She can bridge the gap in South Sudan’s disproportionate ratio of boys to girls learning in classrooms.  If she can read, write, understand numbers and learn to critically think about problems and solutions, then she is one step closer to bridging the large divide between the illiterate and literate in her country.
One morning I asked Rachel to tell me what she considers the most important thing for girls in South Sudan to learn. She said the highest priority for girls should be to get an education. “When educated, it will be easier to get a job. Problems can be more easily endured.” She identified four school subjects that she considers the most important for helping girls to have a bright future.
First, Christian Religious Education – more commonly referred to as “CRE” – teaches about the importance of helping people. It has helped her to know that one person should not be favored over another. She said, “To become a good lawyer, people should be treated equally and judged according to their problems.” CRE is a mandatory subject in public and private secondary schools throughout South Sudan.
Secondly, Rachel talked about the importance of girls learning History. “We should know how to tell stories and understand the background of our country and our families.”
Two other subjects that Rachel considers necessary for girls are Commerce and Geography. “Girls should know how to carry out business, how to balance bookkeeping, how to calculate and the best ways to economize a business. Geography helps us to know about America, Europe, Australia and even East Africa.” Girls should know how to read maps according to Rachel.
Lessons she wishes had been available to her in school include French, Swahili, and Arabic. Specifically, she would like to know how to write in Arabic.
I was curious to know what skills Rachel thinks a good leader should have. She responded, “A good leader must be social, intelligent, and she should not favor one person over another. A good leader should be honest and hardworking in order to bring people together.” She emphasized the importance of being impartial.
Impressed with Rachel’s strong sense of social justice, I pulled out from my totebag a copy of Eastern Mennonite University’s “Peace Builder” magazine. An Africa ELI board director who attends EMU’s Summer Peacebuilding Institute, Susan Montgomery, PhD, had given me the Spring/Summer 2012 supplement. It featured Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Leymah Gbowee. Rachel was fascinated to learn that an African woman was so highly regarded by the international community. She turned each page of “Peace Builder” and smiled broadly as she discovered the many ways women are influencing people around the world to work toward a more just and equal society.
I can imagine Rachel becoming a great leader one day. I can visualize her face on the cover of “Peace Builder.” Equipped with her education, she will be ready to tackle the tough issues of her time in the burgeoning country of South Sudan.  With her voice and her knowledge, she can reduce discrimination and assist in the elimination of chronic problems in sub-Saharan Africa such as malnutrition, malaria, AIDS, gender-based violence, and poverty. She will be able to shoulder responsibility in thoughtful and meaningful ways without resorting to warfare.
She is a girl. She can read, write and speak.  By the end of 2012, she will be an Africa ELI-sponsored high school graduate in The Republic of South Sudan. She will be one step closer in the struggle to make education commonplace for girls in the new republic.  She is a torchbearer blazing a new path for the nation’s younger daughters to follow in her footsteps. She is a peacebuilder. She is special.
Written by Anita Ayers Henderlight
Executive Director, Africa ELI
Verbal permission requested and granted by Rachel for publication of this information – Sept 27, 2012
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