KELOLAND News has been following the story of a lost boy, now living in Sioux Falls, who has made it his mission to help his people back in South Sudan. And now anyone in Sioux Falls can also be part of the effort to educate African children.
The Kalkuma refugee camp in Africa is a world away from Sioux Falls but there is a connection here, albeit a lost one. Sioux Falls lost boy Atem Juowei is about to meet his two teenage brothers who are living here, for the very first time.
"They were actually very happy to see me, very excited I'm around. The brother is coming back. They hear about me but they wouldn't know who I am," Juowei said.
That's because Atem's terrifying journey out of Africa started before the boys were even born. Now Atem wants to get his brothers out of the dangerous camp with al-Qaeda influences.
"If you are a survivor, you can survive there. But that doesn't mean it's a good life in the refugee camp," Juowei said.
Atem was able to get them into a boarding school in Kenya, along with the help of local sponsors from Sioux Falls.
"Yesterday I talked to them. They were actually very happy that we sent them the money and they go back to school. They love school," Juowei said.
The goal is to eventually bring the boys to O'Gorman High School. But Mission Hope South Sudan has an even bigger task on its hands; the building of a library education center in Atem's home village.
"So we're asking for school supplies and also books, as many books as possible, new or used to fill the shelves. We want to have a full functioning library," Lisa Marie Johnson of Mission Hope South Sudan said.
Mission Hope South Sudan now has a store front on West 12th Street to take those donations and turn Atem's dream into reality. Once the supplies are gathered and money is raised, Atem will return to South Sudan in December to begin the building.
"We are very good to go and we will make it real," Juowei said.
You can drop of donations in the form of school supplies, books for money seven days a week, but there are limited hours.
For more information visit the Mission Hope South Sudan website.