“Never doubt that a small, committed team of people can change the world: Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”– Margaret Mead
The Kensington was proud to partner with Community Care Associate Mou Riiny, part of the “Lost Boys of Sudan,” to raise funds for Village Help for South Sudan (VHSS). At a February event in Boston, The Kensington held a special fundraiser to support VHSS in its efforts to improve educational opportunities in Thiou, the village Riiny fled during the Sudanese Civil War.
Two million Sudanese people died and their villages were razed during the war from 1985-2005. Riiny was among the 20,000 South Sudanese children under 17 orphaned at that time. Many of the surviving children fled on foot, knowing that if they were captured, they could be forced into the militia, while teenagers were likely to be killed. The “Lost Boys” trekked across the country to escape these threats, while also facing the perils of nature: starvation, malnutrition, and wild animal attacks. Once they made it to safety in Ethiopia and Kenya, it was a multi-year process to receive refugee status in other countries, including the U.S.
After Riiny settled in the Boston area, he studied Biology at Salem State University. For the last five years, he has been a Kensington associate. But he never forgot the needs of his home village, volunteering with VHSS, which has already installed solar energy panels on the primary school and a home electricity microenterprise to further fund services. Their current project includes expanding the school to eight classrooms (four completed so far), as well as adding administrative offices and storage space. This will have a powerful impact in South Sudan where, according to UNICEF, the overall completion rate primary schools is less than 10 percent.
The Kensington’s February fundraiser included entertainment, refreshments, and a silent auction. Daniel Pereira, General Manager of The Kensington, reports that the event “exceeded all expectations,” bringing in $12,000. “We are awed by the outpouring of support and generosity from our community, residents, and Village Help of South Sudan.” As a result, Riiny is currently in his home village helping allocate the funds for the school project.