Music for Life began working in Sudan in 1993 while the country was still in the midst of a brutal civil war, and stories of the ‘Lost Boys of Sudan’ had reached the West. The organization initially stepped in with emergency food and medical supplies. Those efforts have since grown. Today Music for Life, in partnership with several other non governmental organizations, is helping to rebuild the entire educational infrastructure of Southern Sudan.
Bright Star Academy (BSA) was built in 2001 to accommodate the first group of pupils who graduated from the primary schools in the area that were initiated by Music For Life. At that time there were no secondary schools available, even now it is one of only 80 secondary schools in the entire state. There is a desperate shortage of secondary education in the entire of South Sudan, in particular schools with boarding facilities which give students the opportunity to study in an environment without distractions at home. This applies to girls especially who are expected to care for younger siblings, fetch water and cook for the household leaving little time for school work.
The average age of a student at BSA is late teens, this is because of the interruption to learning that has occurred in South Sudan due to the war. Many learners from this generation have missed their education altogether. Those who want and are able are now attempting to catch up with their education, hence for example there is one 26 year old man registered in BSA this year, who is keen to graduate and go onto help support his family.
Music For Life, working through our local partners HASS (Humanitarian Assistance for Southern Sudan) build 2 classroom blocks from which the school operates. In addition it helps to run the school by paying teachers salaries, and providing food and scholastic material for students.
There is a desperate need for purpose built dormitory accommodation for both boys and girls; a dining facility and staff accommodation to attract good teachers to the area. Music For Life is very grateful to donors who have recently drilled a well at the school providing easy access to safe drinking water for the students and the community.
Meet Dida Emmanual Kenyi
Dida is 19 years old and in his final year of secondary school. He lives with his parents, 3 brothers and 4 sisters in a village 3 miles away. Because of Music For Life’s sponsorship he is able to board at Bright Star and so concentrate fully on his education. He is a prefect in the school and responsible to make sure everyone receives food during meal time. One of his brothers is looking for work in Juba, the rest are at school and so can’t work. Dida is keen to future his education after secondary to become a maths or English teacher.
Meet Betty Kuli Leji
When we arrived in Betty’s father’s compound the first thing we saw was the grave of Betty’s mother to the left of the main hut, literally in the middle of the compound. Culture dictates that the mother is buried to the left and the father to the right of the place they stay. Her father has since re-married but when Betty is home it is her responsibility to fetch water, and prepare the food for him and her younger brother and sister.
Fortunately Betty has a boarding pace at Bright Star, and is able to remain there during term time to concentrate on her studies. She is extremely well spoken and bright, and has ambitions to study to be a nurse when she finishes secondary school.