POWAY – A dinner hosted by St. Michael Parish (Poway) and the California Sudanese Lost Boys and Girls Foundation seeks to break the cycle of poverty in South Sudan by raising funds for education.
The “1,000 Mile Celebration” will be held at 6:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 15, in the parish’s Holy Family Center. The event takes its name from the 1,000-mile journey that the Lost Boys of Sudan walked when they fled their war-torn homeland as refugees, beginning in the late 1980s.
St. Michael Parish has been holding annual fundraisers for the Lost Boys and Girls Foundation, in the form of 5K walkathons, for the past five years. But the upcoming dinner is unique in that the earlier events’ proceeds benefited the Lost Boys themselves, while this one is intended as a way for the Lost Boys to give back.
“The Lost Boys have decided to donate 100 percent of the net proceeds from this year’s event to benefit Awoda Primary School in South Sudan,” said Ana Alvord, director of the parish’s Corporal Works of Mercy Ministry.
She added, “The Lost Boys and Girls feel so blessed by the kindness they’ve been shown and the opportunities they now have in the U.S. that they want to help those that have been left behind.”
The proceeds will provide a daily meal, school supplies, school uniforms, desks and chairs, and teachers’ salaries at Awoda School.
Daniel Ukang, president of the California Sudanese Lost Boys and Girls Foundation, first learned of the school when he returned to South Sudan in late summer 2018 to visit his sisters. Seeing the poor students and their material needs broke his heart. Upon his return to the United States, he met with board members of the California Sudanese Lost Boys and Girls Foundation and launched a project to assist the school.
Ukang is one of the 20,000 so-called Lost Boys displaced or orphaned by the Second Sudanese Civil War. He was also among the approximately 3,000 of them who found permanent refuge in the United States after nearly two decades of living in refugee camps in Kenya. They reached the camps after escaping their homeland, where many had been forced to become child soldiers or slaves, and then walking through Ethiopia to Kenya.
Ukang grew up in what he said was once the “peaceful village of Yabullu,” but at age 6, he “fled in terror … amidst bombs, bullets and flames” and embarked on a thousand-mile journey fraught with dangers.
“I lost friends to thirst and starvation,” he recalled. “I was forced at gunpoint into a crocodile-infested river and fled more bombs until I reached Kenya and refuge in Kakuma Camp.”
Auxiliary Bishop John P. Dolan, who began his relationship with the Lost Boys while he was the pastor of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Chula Vista and continued it as pastor of St. Michael’s and in the years since, will attend the upcoming dinner fundraiser as a special guest of honor. Christopher Check, president of Catholic Answers, will be the emcee. There will also be live music and a raffle.
Tickets to the “1,000 Mile Celebration” are $40 for adults and $15 for those under 17. There is no cost for those younger than 5.
For more information, contact Ana Alvord at (858) 487-4755, ext. 3155, or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Daniel Ukang at (619) 647-7479 or email@example.com. Tickets can be purchased at www.dreamtobemore.org by clicking on the “Events” tab.