Mayo is a large section of the city that is home to people who’ve relocated to Khartoum, mostly from western Sudan. And inside Mayo, there’s a neighborhood called Mandela that refugees from South Sudan now call home. Some came fleeing conflict near home, others were seeking the opportunity of the capital and the chance at a different future.
For most the promise hasn’t lived up to reality. But there is a group of changemakers in Mayo determined to change that. Samira and Kemal lead the Green Hope Association for Peace and Development. They don’t have any regular funding. So, when they decide to do something new, they mostly just bootstrap it by gathering resources and talent from their own community.
Green Hope offers adult education, skills training for women in carpentry, welding, food service, handicrafts, electrical repair and more. They even offer a food-for-work program for the vulnerable elderly in the neighborhood, providing food staples in exchange for seniors collecting trash in the community. But Green Hope’s primary mission is running a K-8 school for 200+ students.
South Sudanese and Sudanese students attend together in harmony. Teachers are college educated. There are no funds for teacher salaries, so they volunteer. And when the school day ends in the afternoon, they have to find some small jobs to make ends meet.
Green Hope is abundant with hope, joy, possibility and a can-do spirit. But scarce in almost everything else. When we asked the students how we could help, their response was unanimous. Books! A handful of kids had a book, maybe two. But for kids who told us they wanted to be engineers and doctors, they needed all the books.
So they gave us a list and we headed to the store to buy all the books that students from 5th to 8th grade would need to prepare for their high school entrance exams – Arabic, English, Mathematics, Geography, History, Science…the budget allowed for a notebook and pen for every single student in the school. And we received a donation of storybooks for the younger children – so everyone in Green Hope received at least one book. For many, their first ever book.
“We’re so happy, we want to dance,” Samira told us. And they did – forming a circle, clapping, and taking their turns soloing in the center.