06 Nov Case Study: Abraham Deng

Above is Deng and Alfred at St. Mary’s in Nyeri.

One of the goals of the Simama Project is to celebrate the children that we work with in a positive light. We are opposed to the marketing of children as victims and instead choose to focus on their successes.
However, we also believe that it is very important that our supporters understand the situations that some of our children come from and their experience leading up to their time with Simama.
With that in mind we will be featuring several posts from some of our students telling their stories in their own words. The students featured have agreed to share their experiences with the public. This is in no way a requirement for them to be involved in our program and the children can choose whether or not they would like to participate and what they would like to share/withhold. There are only slight grammatical edits for clarity and, occasionally edits for appropriate content. All parenthetical statements have been added by the editor for clarification.

That being said, I would like to introduce one of our most promising young students, Abraham Deng. Deng towers above his peers at 6’9″ and has just completed his first year at St. Mary’s Boys Secondary School in Nyeri, Kenya. He has distinguished himself as being the top performer in his class by leading in five separate subjects.

Additionally, Deng has done all in his power to raise money to sponsor another Simama student.

Here is Deng in his own words.

“Life is a trap of prosperity and challenges, however I was unfortunate that it trapped me on the negative side, and for that it had not been a morning breakfast!
I was born in a refugee camp in the south-west Ethiopia. I was raised by an extended family consisting of three wives and about twenty children. We had no main source of livelihood. We all depended on the food we were offered by UNHCR (the UN refugee agency) and for sure, it was just too little for us. We couldn’t afford three square meals. It was either lunch with no supper each day, or supper with no lunch. For matter of breakfast, it was history, I came to learn it the other day.

Despite the efforts of my father and mother, everything seemed to be growing darker and darker. Nothing worked and as a result, life became a hard bone to crack. We tried to do petty jobs here and there to improve our living standards, but everything was null. My parents never got jobs since they had never gone to school. More so, we were not even sent to school ourselves. The school which was there was the only one, and it was crowded beyond imagination. Getting admitted in that school was rare, and for those that got in, it was only through corruption.

So we stayed at home, helpless, not knowing what to do. We knew it so well that education was a breakthrough to a better life, but what could we have done? If we cannot change the impossibilities to possibilities, we had no otherwise. Life went on and before long, mother developed an illness, I think it was high blood pressure. She got admitted several times at hospital, however, God kept her safe. She survived despite not having gotten sufficient medical care. It was all because of God.

In 2007, our uncle who was living at Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya heard about our whereabouts. He was so shocked. He thought my parents had been killed in a fight that had been going on in Sudan called the Bor Massacre. Immediately he sent for us. We packed our things and walked on foot from Ethiopia to Sudan since there was no other means of transportation. After we reached a place called Buma in South Sudan we got lucky to get a truck which was heading to Kenya. We entered, and after about two days we arrived at Kakuma refugee cap.

Our uncle welcomed us warmly. He shed tears of joy at having seen my parents alive again. From there we were given our ration card by UNHCR and life seemed a little better. The serenity we had gotten was now vanishing. Reports of death cases each day were really sickening us. The local people in the area were a threat to refugees. They would kill many of us at night, set our houses on fire and raped women. Children were not an exception, they were kidnapped and taken to a destination unknown to us. It was so terrible. How could people be so heartless?

Nights became longer than usual. Sleeping at night was useless, like a smile in the darkness. Everyone was all eyes at night, since no one wants to meet their death while they slept. Conditions became worse and worse and as a result my parents opted to go back to Sudan. We were to follow them, however, one brother and I were lucky. We were called by our Aunt, who was living in Karatina, Kenya, to come and live with her. My parents went to Sudan and we came to Karatina.

This is the junction where my education started. Despite being illiterate, I joined class four. I worked very hard and by the end of class eight I passed my exam with flying colors. I scored a 393, (for purpose of comparison the best score in all of Kenya that year was 430) which I had not expected. Kiswahili had been a challenge to me, but I thank God I have sound knowledge of it now. Luckily I joined St. Mary’s Boys Secondary school where I met Alfred Maina. We became friends and when I told him my story he was touched and told me about the Simama Project. I am quite proud that the Simama Project has given me a chance to continue my education and I am here to utilize it to the fullest.

I am an ambitious guy, with the help of the Simama Project, and others, I know I will make it to the top. After my form 4 (senior year of high school) I would like to study electronic engineering, god willing.

Thank you,”

Abraham Deng

Abraham Deng at prize giving day at St. Mary’s Secondary School where he was a first year student