TORONTO -- A member of the Dinka tribe, Jacob was born in Duk Padiet, a village near the Nile in South Sudan. He was seven years old when insurgents raided his village, burning everything in sight and slaughtering people. Among those killed were several members of Jacob’s family.
Jacob fled on foot with thousands of other boys and eventually reached Ethiopia. It was a four-month trek, which he barely survived. With little to eat and facing constant dangers from soldiers and wild animals, many of the boys did not make it.
Even when Jacob was settled in the Ethiopian camp, along with 20,000 other boys, life was still very difficult. He wanted to go to school and realised that the boys' best hope lay in their make-shift outdoor school in the camp. There they received a rudimentary education and Jacob dreamt of bringing peace to his country through the power of education.
See beyond hunger
“As a young refugee living in camps in Ethiopia and then Kenya, I witnessed the importance of front-line food aid organizations such as the World Food Programme. Food is one of the most basic elements of life, and without it, it is hard to see beyond our hunger to a better future,” says Jacob. “When food packages were delivered to these refugee camps and, later, to my school in Kenya, they brought hope with them.”
Having experienced first-hand the difference food makes, he now wants to raise awareness about children who today face the same challenges he did.
“I am able to be a voice for people like myself displaced by war in South Sudan, and others around the world who desperately need emergency food.”
He has established a charity, Wadeng Wings of Hope, which strives to raise money to build schools in South Sudan.
“I believe that education is the tool that will allow the citizens of South Sudan – especially young people -- to shape their own futures. However, reaching a place of security and peace of mind cannot happen on empty stomachs.”