‘Lost Boy of Sudan’ Returns to Burlington for Much-anticipated Talk on International Development
BURLINGTON, Vermont— The Episcopal Church in Vermont is pleased to announce that Abraham Awolich, founder of the Sudan Development Foundation (SUDEF), international development expert, and former Burlington resident, will be speaking at the Cathedral Church of Saint Paul, 2 Cherry Street, Burlington, VT, on May 22 from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. This much-anticipated event is free and open to the public. Free parking will be available in the Cathedral Parking lot.
Awolich came to Burlington in 2001 as one of the nearly 4,000 Lost Boys of Sudan, young survivors sent to the US away from the ravages of Sudan’s civil war. As explained by the International Rescue Committee, the war uprooted some 20,000 children, most just six or seven years old, leaving them to walk over 1,000 miles to Ethiopia to escape death or induction into the northern army.
Only four years after arriving in Burlington, Awolich earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Vermont and then went on to achieve a master’s degree at the prestigious Maxwell School at Syracuse University.
Committed to rebuilding South Sudan’s war-ravaged communities, Awolich founded SUDEF in 2007, choosing Colchester, Vermont, as the organization’s home base. Since that time, SUDEF has fostered sustainable, community-led solutions, such health and educational services for 12 villages and support services for more than 130,000 displaced people living in South Sudan.
Awolich returned to South Sudan in 2012 and began work for a world-renowned think tank based in Juba while at the same time expanding SUDEF’s reach through partnerships with various NGOs. He has traveled the world and spoken multiple times at the United Nations about how the empowerment of local communities brings sustainable solutions and ultimately peace to post-conflict nations.
All SUDEF projects in South Sudan are owned, operated and maintained by the local community. SUDEF partners with community leaders and government officials to provide the raw materials and staffing needed to bring health and educational services to rural villages. The US branch of SUDEF is entirely volunteer-staffed, so 97% of every donor dollar goes directly to projects in South Sudan.
“I have had the privilege of knowing Abraham for the past 17 years and have been proud to support SUDEF and witness the tremendous positive impact that both SUDEF and Abraham have had on people in Vermont and abroad,” said the Rt. Rev. Thomas C. Ely, bishop of the Episcopal Church in Vermont.
He continued, “I encourage everyone in the community who has interest in our spiritual mandate to ‘do right, seek justice, and defend the oppressed,’ and who wants to learn more about the current realities in South Sudan, to attend Abraham’s May 22 talk at the Cathedral.”
About the Episcopal Church in Vermont
The Episcopal Church in Vermont, also known as the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont, comprises 45 congregations across the Green Mountain State that share in the mission to pray the prayer of Christ, to learn the mind of Christ, and to do the deeds of Christ. The congregations live into this mission through ministries of Formation, Liberation, Communication, Connection, and Celebration. The Episcopal Church in Vermont is a member of the worldwide Anglican communion. Learn more at https://diovermont.org.