By Nicholas Cafalone, Contributing Writer
OSWEGO, NY – SUNY Oswego professors, student organizations and others have worked together to send a large shipment of textbooks to a university in South Sudan.
In an effort to supply the John Garang Memorial University library in South Sudan, around 5,000 textbooks were donated along with more than $5,000.
“John Garang is a new institution founded in South Sudan which is also a new nation. We are helping them get started with their effort,” said Dr. Patricia Clark, an associate professor at SUNY Oswego and an organizer of the book drive.
“They’re going to have books for their library,” said Dr. Clark. “One of the posters we posted online shows a picture of the library and the shelves are empty. So they really need their library equipped, so this is going to be one of the largest shipments to that region to help supply their library. So this is going to be quite significant.”
To help in obtaining enough textbooks and money to ship them, organizers enlisted the help of other universities in the area.
“We also solicited help via email, we put up posters around the different campuses and other organizations or businesses we could possibly think of to donate the books or money to ship the books,” said Dr. Clark.
LeMoyne College, Syracuse University and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry all helped in the effort.
Dr. Kamal Mohamed, professor of biological sciences at SUNY Oswego and a Sudanese native, visited John Garang Memorial University in the summer of 2010 where he saw the poor condition of the university’s library first-hand.
“I grew up in Sudan, went to school in Sudan and I know textbooks are a problem. If we can do this, why not? It’s going to be a lot of help for the students,” said Dr. Mohamed.
He also added, “This is a new country they just started their schools and want to get off to a good start with education.”
The textbooks were boxed up, placed on pallets and loaded onto a large moving truck.
Ed and Anita Diefes, two volunteers from the Marcellus Rotary, will drive the moving truck to Annapolis. From there the pallets of textbooks will be loaded onto a Navy training vessel and shipped to Mombasa, Kenya.
Once in Mombasa the textbooks will travel by land until they reach their destination of Bor, South Sudan.
Helping with the effort to load and ship the textbooks were two other Sudanese natives.
Moses Joh, from SUNY Upstate, and Abraham Achiek, a 2009 SUNY Oswego graduate, helped box and load the textbooks onto the moving truck.
Both are Lost Boys of Sudan, a group of more than 20,000 boys belonging to the Nuer and Dinka ethnic groups that were displaced or orphaned during the Second Sudanese Civil War.
In January 2011 a referendum on independence for South Sudan was held with 98 percent of the electorate opting for secession.
South Sudan is expected to become completely independent on July 9, 2011.