Early in the year we were delighted to learn that Excel International Academy produced four of the Top 10 performing students who completed 2013 exams given by the Ugandan National Examination Board (UNEB). Founder and Director of Excel, Wani Kenneth, along with Teacher Fatuma are shown here celebrating the students’ achievements. An all-school assembly was held to recognize the teachers and students for a “job well done!”

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In the springtime, Amherst College in Massachusetts recognized alumna Adrie Kusserow for co-founding the New Sudan Education Initiative (NESEI) along with her husband, Robert Lair, and South Sudanese refugee, Atem Deng. NESEI was the pre-cursor to Africa Education & Leadership Initiative. Africa ELI would not exist if not for Adrie, Robert, and Atem’s work to help establish our organization. We were thrilled to see Adrie and Atem featured in Amherst Magazine!


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Another 2014 publication, First Coast Magazine in Florida, showcased our long-time Africa ELI friend –Pat Hipp and the original artwork she creates and sells at Cottage by the Seaside Shoppes, located at Jacksonville Beach. Pat contributes 100% of her sales to our girls’ scholarship fund. Her passion for Africa ELI students stems from her 2011 one month visit to Yei where she met our scholarship recipients and taught arts & crafts classes.

Here’s more of what made us smile in 2014:

Journalist and Author, James Copnall of London, visited Excel International Academy in September. He allowed students to use his electronic equipment to practice interviewing and reporting. He offered feedback to help improve their communication skills. Students also learned about Mr. Copnall’s work as a BBC correspondent and his research for the book, A Poisonous Thorn in Our Hearts: Sudan and South Sudan’s Bitter and Incomplete Divorce. Mr. Copnall wrote a terrific article for The Guardian about his time with us in Yei.

Under the leadership of college student, Julia Mayeshiba, the United Methodist Women of Wisconsin wrote cheerful letters to our students. They were gladly received and read aloud by our girls and boys during an assembly.

A new partnership was formed between Africa ELI and Future Doctors of South Sudan in order to support aspiring young doctors who need assistance enrolling in and paying for medical school. 

Youngsters in the 5th and 6th grades at Trinity United Methodist Church in York, South Carolina, built birdhouses and sold them to benefit the Africa ELI scholarship fund. 

Chris Mason and Cindy Knape continued baking Pauls’ Moms’ Cookies in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Proceeds from their cookie sales were contributed toward student scholarships.

Club members of Rotary International District 6780 along with members of Marshall UMC in Michigan donated funds exclusively for water and sanitation projects at the new site of Excel International Academy under construction.

Artist Gary Salk of East Tennessee designed and produced original artwork featuring Africa ELI students to help raise awareness and promote our school programs. 

MK Russell and Abbott Heating and Air Conditioning donated space on an electronic billboard in Maryville, Tennessee to bring attention to the need for education in South Sudan.

Amanda Goodwin Smith organized and facilitated a nationwide Africa ELI Bookfair through Barnes and Noble Booksellers

Caroline Njuki, Susan Montgomery, Chris Hurley and Majok Wol dedicated time and energy to serve as members of the Africa ELI Board. Key advisors David and Pat Coffey along with Lucy Gibson and Ariane Schratter continually offer wisdom and support for students and programs. 

It’s impossible to list everyone and everything that made us smile in 2014. If you are reading this message then it is highly likely that YOU have also sparked smiles and given us encouragement in the past twelve months. 

To help launch us into 2015, it’s not too late to make a final tax-deductible gift in 2014. Feel free to give an affordable financial contribution on our Africa ELI donor page hereOr mail a donation to:

Africa ELI

1550 Centervue Crossing – #107, Knoxville, TN 37932

To those who have recently sent donations, please accept our heartfelt gratitude. If you have been thinking about giving, now is the time.

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