Thuch Malual Deng graduated from the University of Washington on June 11, 2010 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Health/Individualized Studies and Diversity. He came to this country a “lost boy of the Sudan;” he knows his graduation date but not his birthday – all “lost boys” celebrate on January 1 because, “growing up without parents and in a country where hospitals do not exist, remembering a birth date is like knowing how to win a lottery.”
Because of what he was given, he was able to give back. Thuch always knew that he needed to return to Africa and give back to the people of his homeland, and upon graduation he got a job in South Sudan with World Vision International.
I was the Malaria Project Officer in two counties in Warrap State, South Sudan. Malaria is considered one of the most deadly diseases in the developing and undeveloped countries of the world, and it is part of the United Nation’s Millennium goals to eradicate it in Africa. I was the one that managed World Vision’s overall activities … training community volunteers, planning budgets and activities, collecting data, preparing weekly and monthly reports, and completing monthly appraisals of my subordinates were among my many tasks. I helped distribute 600,000 long lasting, insecticide-treated nets to protect people from mosquitoes. We targeted vulnerable groups: children under the age of five, pregnant women, the elderly and people with compromised health conditions. We also did a mass distribution of mosquito nets to all households in our areas of concentration.
In addition to those responsibilities, I helped produce liquid chlorine (sodium hypochlorite) for the local people through a simple process of electrolysis – non-iodized salt and water were mixed in a 10-liter container and then connected to a solar panel which ran for eight hours to produce the chlorine. I am grateful to Engineers without Borders at Seattle University, who trained me on this process and gave me the chlorine generator which I took to the South Sudan in April 2011.
Thuch came back to Washington State at the end of 2012. He wants to go to school for a Master’s in Public Health, so that he can return to his homeland once more and help his people at the policy level.
He contacted FC2S to update us on his life, and mentioned not being a “lost boy” anymore. When questioned, he elaborated:
After going to South Sudan, people started calling me “the found boy,” trying to discourage the name “lost boy.” They didn’t expect many South Sudanese-Americans to return to a country ravaged by 50 years of war, but I am totally attached to that country. I would respond to them that yes I am a found boy indeed, but I am found because somebody on the other side of the ocean has taken care of me by giving me an education. When we used to learn the alphabet on sandy floors because we couldn’t afford exercise books, teachers told us, “Now that you have no parents, education is going to be your mother and father.” I didn’t know what it meant until coming into this country. They were right; I’m not constantly thinking so much about my parents because I can now stand up alone.
Although I continue to struggle, other people have really made me better. I never before dreamed of being able to help someone else, because I was incapable of helping my own self. But now, the knowledge I have gotten from generous Americans has allowed me to make a difference in the lives of more than 300,000 people in the two counties I served.
The little struggles that I continue to have are minor compared to the hopeless life I used to have before arriving in America. The Foster Care to Success scholarship and the help and support of others as well gave me a brighter future where I can be among the people making differences in their world. Whenever I feel good about what I’ve done for others, I immediately think about others who brought a difference into my life. I came back here so I can attend graduate school and to return home with more knowledge. In thinking bigger, a $5000 scholarship money given to me didn’t just help me but has ended up helping others. Our country is now free from oppression but not yet free from illiteracy rates which exacerbate the spread of simply controlled diseases like malaria. One day I will return, and continue to play my part to improve the lives of my countrymen.
Let the Foster Care to Success leadership, sponsors, staff and volunteers know that I am thankful, and will always be, for the scholarship awarded to me.