I recently met an incredible young man named Makwei Mabioor Deng, GW’s first Banaa Scholar. Originally from a village in the southern Sudan, Deng and his family fled to the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya where they lived for 16 years. Deng came to GW via the Banaa scholarship program in 2008 and is now majoring in philosophy with aspirations of law school.
On top of his full load with GW, Deng recently completed a book in Dinka, the language spoken by the more than three million Jieng people in the Sudan and across the globe. His efforts will help transition Dinka from an oral language to a standardized written language, and his book has the potential to introduce written language the Jieng people.
Banaa was created by recent alumni Evan Faber, BA ’09, Justin Zorn, BA ’08, and a few of their fellow students activists during their time at GW. Arabic for “build” or “create,” Banna provides a free education to Sudanese students in the United States on the condition that they will return home to improve their country. Its mission is to improve the conflicts in Dafur and Sudan by empowering peacemakers both within and without of the countries.
GW is currently accepting applications for an additional Banaa student to begin in Fall 2011. I encourage you to learn more about Banaa.org and their efforts and view the video about Deng’s experience thus far.