At a public meeting, held at Ultimo TAFE Library on Monday 25th March 2013, Zacharia Mawat Machiek, President of Sudan Orphan Education Support, announced that with Australian community support work has now commenced on the Anek Mathiang Girls’ Primary School in the village of Abyei Achok South Sudan.
Zacharia, a student at Ultimo TAFE, having just returned from launching the school project in South Sudan, spoke about his experiences and presented documentary footage recorded during the trip by the acclaimed documentary filmmaker, Tom Zubrycki. Zacharia and Tom answered questions from the audience about the project.
Supporting the education of orphaned and disadvantaged children in South Sudan has long been the vision of Zacharia, himself orphaned during the Sudanese civil war, which lead to South Sudanese independence in 2011. From the age of ten, Zacharia, one of the “Lost Boys” of South Sudan, roamed the countryside for years at great peril and near starvation, during the 1980s and 1990s. Zacharia who has now settled in Australia recently returned to his country of birth to assess conditions there, reconnect with his family and start work on the project. Zacharia explained, “The people there have nothing. Schooling of children, when it occurs, is often conducted under the trees by volunteers.”
During his visit the local people of Abyei Achok made clear their need for a primary school for girls in the village. This is significant because many South Sudanese girls don’t receive any schooling. While primarily catering to girls the community of Abyei Achok have indicated that provision should also be made for younger boys to attend.