The Valentino Achak Deng (VAD) Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating quality educational opportunities in South Sudan. The VAD Foundation aims to empower war-affected South Sudanese communities by constructing schools, increasing access to quality education, and creating new teacher-training programs. Currently, the Foundation operates the Marial Bai Secondary School, ranked 3rd nationwide. The facilities include 10 classrooms, a library, a teacher-training college, a community center, boys' and girls' dormitories, a sustainable farm and sports facilities. It was the first facility of its kind in the region and not only promotes literacy and girls education, but also serves the larger community.
The Foundation's History:
Valentino Achak Deng was born in southern Sudan, in the village of Marial Bai. He fled Sudan in the late 1980's during civil war, when his village was destroyed. Deng grew up in Ethiopian and Kenyan refugee camps, where he worked for the UNHCR as a social advocate and reproductive health educator. Deng has toured the US and Europe speaking about his life in South Sudan, his experience as a refugee, and his collaboration with author Dave Eggers on What Is the What, the novelized version of Deng's life story. Deng advocates for the universal right to education and the freedom of his people in South Sudan. In 2006, Deng and Eggers established the Valentino Achak Deng Foundation to help rebuild South Sudanese communities.