Garang's Education Fund for Emory

$80,270 of $93,922 goal

Raised by 315 people in 8 months
Created June 7, 2018
on behalf of David Stobbelaar
OVERVIEW: The HMHS community has been advocating on behalf of Garang Buk Buk, a victim of armed conflict from South Sudan, to raise the funds necessary for his graduate education at Emory University.  Emory granted Garang with tuition scholarship, but there is still a remaining balance and cost of living. 

Since 2015, Garang has Skyped and communicated with HMHS sophomores after they read Ishmael Beah's A Long Way Gone, Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. Without expectation, he has given us so much by sharing his story and opening a dialogue about loss and possibility.  Garang has defied the odds. He was conscripted into the SPLA as a boy but managed to leave that behind and was able to find opportunities to pursue his primary and secondary level education. Garang worked with The Carter Center, supporting the South Sudan Guinea Worm Eradication Program. During his time with the Carter Center, he was able to save enough money to pay for his undergraduate tuition in Nairobi. He has now been accepted to Emory University for a Master's in Development Practice with the ultimate goal of returning to South Sudan to better his community. His tuition scholarship will not cover the finances to fulfill the two year tuition requirement and cost of living. The HMHS community is working tirelessly to give back to someone who has given us so much. Please help us get Garang to Emory University and meet the various tuition deadlines in the upcoming 2 years.

Featured in the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER! Please read this article online for the most comprehensive coverage of our advocacy campaign: “He was a former child soldier. Now he’s hoping to earn a master’s degree from Emory, and some Haddonfield students are here to help.” 

Please contact Kimberly Dickstein, HMHS teacher, through the GoFundMe platform if you have any questions regarding our fundraising efforts. To learn more about the humanitarian effort behind this campaign, read this feature from the Haddonfield Sun. 

To learn more about GARANG'S JOURNEY to Emory, please read this article from the Emory Wheel "Graduate Student Braves Violence, Poverty to Attend Emory." 

Read excerpts from Garang Buk Buk's statement of purpose for Emory University's, Master’s in Development Practices:

"I join studies. It was not an easy journey too. Many ups and down but with determination, I finished primary and subsequently secondary school. After completion of secondary education, I wanted to proceed to college but there were no available opportunities. I decided to look for a place where I can offer my services and equally build my capacity. My secondary completion was at the time when Sudan People Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) signed Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005 with Khartoum government. 

Immediately after the completion I joint Catholic Diocese of Torit (C-DOT) and worked at different capacities and a year later I moved to The Carter Center (TCC)–South Sudan Guinea Worm Eradication Program (SSGWEP) where I worked with different communities across South Sudan. My work with TCC-SSGWEP exposed me to closely worked with communities at household level to help them impact skills and knowledge necessary for understanding Guinea worm transmission and its prevention measures.

In 2012, I decided to go back to school to have better understanding of this tragedy. Initially I wanted to do electrical engineering but with the poverty trap my community find itself in, I decided to do development studies so that I can have a better understanding and forge a way of helping them to help themselves. Since then, I have been thinking about better strategies that can improve the well-being of communities. Improving sustainable livelihood of communities will create better opportunities to young South Sudanese. My quest is to create a better tomorrow."


"After earning my undergraduate degree in Sustainable Human Development, I joint the race against poverty. I have been working in developmental activities such as food security and integrated Peacebuilding projects. While relief agencies are doing their best to alleviate the suffering, it is critical that communities are still sliding deeper into the wall of deprivation. They are entangled in cycle where endogenous process where individual and group capacity building perspective are critical in charting the way out. 

Empowerment and participation are critical in propelling development among communities of South Sudan, I envisioned to empower poor by strengthening their capacities to chart their development through educational and skill-building programs. This will enhance the self-reliance and copying capacities of vulnerable households thus lead to diversification of socio-economic of households. With the current situation in South Sudan, such an attempt can lead to improved community security and social cohesion among communities."


"After my graduation, I will move back to South Sudan to help in nation building. The skills and knowledge obtained from University will be critical in helping communities to chart that path to development. I will be an important asset to the country given the current state of affair. If you accept me to join the program, you will be contributing to capacity development of South Sudan. I want to be a development catalyst."

NB.2. Original disclaimer below was void as of 1 August 2018 given that Garang was granted a student visa and able to attend the master's program at Laney Graduate School.

NB.1.  Dickstein met Garang through a mutual friend, David Stobbelaar. She was teaching "A Long Way Gone" by Ishmael Beah, and Stobbelaar suggested that Garang could speak with her class. The two worked together with The Carter Center, supporting the South Sudan Guinea Worm Eradication Program. During Garang's time with the Carter Center, he was able to save enough money to pay for his undergraduate tuition in Nairobi. Garang's next goal is to complete his graduate degree. Money will be withdrawn into a bank account for Garang set up by Stobbelaar through Wells Fargo.  He will be able to withdraw from this personal bank account to pay for graduate education. Disclaimer: Capital gains income tax could be taken on money raised. We will notify users if we would need to deduct capital gains from the final amount. All are in communication with Emory University's Laney Graduate program, and Garang is currently enrolled in the program.   If for some reason Garang cannot attend Laney Graduate School after his one-year deferral, all money collected on his behalf will go to The Carter Center to continue funding projects that empower individuals like Garang.
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THANKFUL FOR YOU! Garang is less than a month away from completing his first semester at Emory’s Laney Graduate School, and we are incredibly grateful to our GoFundMe supporters for being with us from the start. Garang has taken advantage of every opportunity presented to him and spends the majority of his time studying at the Woodruff Library. From attending events at the Carter Center to volunteering at a local community park, he has found a home in Atlanta.

Garang also visited his “family” in Haddonfield, New Jersey during his fall break! He was able to meet the students, teachers, and families who have rallied behind him. Some highlights from the visit include seeing the ocean for the first time, attending an American football game (he was even recognized during half time!), visiting the Haddonfield Police and Community day, reading at First Presbyterian Church on World Communion Sunday, and delivering a full school assembly to the high school! He was the town celebrity!

Friends of Garang and South Sudan will be hosting a fundraiser at First Presbyterian Church in Haddonfield, New Jersey, on Friday, December 7th to complete his second semester tuition payment. Garang will be attending the Global Citizen Dinner to share his story with the community. If you are interested in attending or sponsoring a table, please visit the online invitation here: https://www.paperlesspost.com/flyer/go/ber9bp1S1gXG82f51Al9

Enjoy your Thanksgiving and take the time to give thanks. You have invested in Garang with your continued support and given him an opportunity that otherwise would have been impossible. It truly takes a village. Thank you.
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All of our hard work continues to yield great returns! Garang has OFFICIALLY begun his program at Emory’s Laney Graduate School for a master’s in development practice!

What many thought was impossible, you made possible with your generosity and faith. As the program continues, we will continue to support Garang in tuition and other expenses as he hopes to make a better tomorrow for South Sudan.

Thank you to those of you who donated items like an iPhone, computer, back pack, school supplies, clothes, VISA gift cards, sky miles, etc. All of these items have been incredibly helpful to get Garang off to a good start, and we will continue to need donations like this list. Adjusting to American life has been quite the adventure already for Garang, and he will continue to learn as much as possible during his time here.

Please continue to share Garang’s story and join us in celebrating this major achievement.

Enjoy your Labor Day. This campaign has been all grassroots work and pure grit — you deserve a good rest!
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Hello, donors and followers!

We are writing to you with an important update on Garang's program status. Thank you for your patience as there is a lot of information in this update!

Garang was able to demonstrate he had access to the necessary funds because of your support and formally accepted the offer from Emory's Graduate School. We would not be here today without you taking a leap of faith and making a donation. Emory began processing the required forms for Garang to begin the student visa application process. The next steps did not come without some obstacles.

It took an entire month, but we finally have the visa interview scheduled!!!!!!! This is very good news in the right direction. We have raised enough funds thus far to support Garang and will continue the GoFundMe throughout his two-year program. As he is a prayerful person, and if you are, please keep him in your thoughts and prayers leading up to these events.

Our students at Haddonfield Memorial High School continue to support Garang and have expressed their gratitude both online and in print. If you missed Kathleen Lee's letter-to-the-editor in the Haddonfield Sun, please read her thoughts here: https://haddonfieldsun.com/letter-to-the-editor-kathleen-lee-bf10156fdd10

Thank you all for your encouragement and support in this process. Please continue to share Garang's story and help us help him achieve his education goals!
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Have you read the featured article in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Garang Buk Buk and the HMHS students' advocacy campaign? A very inspirational and important read with comment from New York Times best selling author, Ishmael Beah, author of "A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier."

Please share with your network after reading! Support their efforts by telling his story! Let's get Garang to Emory!

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$80,270 of $93,922 goal

Raised by 315 people in 8 months
Created June 7, 2018
on behalf of David Stobbelaar
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