Greetings readers!

Though I’m pretty new to AID, as the summer Global Health Intern, it doesn’t take much time to recognize that our AID student network is heavily immersed in campus initiatives and social justice organizations across the spectrum. It’s hard to imagine that I can bring a new organization to your attention, but I’m going to give it a shot…

Ever heard of Banaa?

Banaa, or the Sudanese Educational Empowerment Network, is the brainchild of two George Washington University alumni, who have the following vision:
“To end the genocide in Darfur and prevent fresh conflict in the south of Sudan, there must be peacemakers on all sides. With this in mind, we provide marginalized individuals who have seen the horrors of war with the tools to make peace. By the end of the decade, we aim to empower hundreds of new peacemakers, helping unheard voices find space in the Sudanese political arena.”
www.Banaa.org

How do they accomplish this empowering of peacemakers? Through education at American universities! Banaa seeks to partner Sudanese scholars with scholarship opportunities at universities across the United States. Once the students arrive to the States, they are given orientations, and assigned several university advisors who guide them through a four-year curriculum that will help them return to Sudan with important skills in peacemaking and conflict resolution, public health, or other fields vital to the future of Sudan.

The first Sudanese student to matriculate at GWU, named Makwei Mabioor Deng, started his freshman year in the fall of 2008. The articles included below offer more information about Makwei’s experience at GW. Makwei was one of over 160 applicants for this inaugural scholarship, which means that scores of driven and accomplished students had to be turned away. With the help of more universities funding scholarships–even just for one student–powerful, personal connections can be made between American college students and these Sudanese students, and peacemaking skills learned by Banaa scholars can be applied to the complex reality of Sudan.

The Banaa movement is growing on campuses across the country. According to the Washington Post, there are over 35 Banaa chapters at different universities. These chapters don’t grow without advocacy, awareness, and action, however, so find ways to get involved! Visit www.banaa.org for information on how to host a student on your campus, or to find out about campuses that are on their way to accepting students. Banaa.org offers toolkits on how to broach the topic with fellow students and campus administrators. They also offer a FAQ sheet that may address questions you’re having (“How can students from refugee camps be admitted to US universities?” “How will you ensure that the students return to Sudan?”). Moreover, the dedicated founding members of Banaa are always ready to provide further information or assistance to college students who want to support the cause.

Visit www.banaa.org, and find out more today!

Some news articles, provided by banaa.org, to learn more about the Banaa mission and experience:

Student Activist Brings Sudan Native to GWU” [Washington Post]

“University Creates Darfur Grant” [GW Hatchet]

“Sudanese Refugee will attend GW” [GW Hatchet]

“A Dream Come True” [GW Hatchet]

“Tufts Banaa: a Strategic Initiative for Peace in the Sudan” [The Tufts Daily]

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