Former Lost Boy of Sudan to Share Social Justice Message with Young Adults

Gabriel Bol Deng

November 12, 2012

Contact: Christopher Kerr, Executive Director
O – 216-397-2088
C – 216-410-7351
[email protected]


WASHINGTON, DC – Gabriel Bol Deng, founding director of Hope for Ariang, and former Lost Boy of Sudan, will address a crowd of nearly 1,000, the majority high school and college students, at the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice (IFTJ).  IFTJ is a national conference for those passionate about social justice grounded in the Catholic Social Teaching and the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola.  The 15th annual Teach-In will take place in Washington, DC, from November 16-18, 2012.  The program is sponsored by the Ignatian Solidarity Network.

The Teach-In is an opportunity for members of the Ignatian family (those connected with Jesuit institutions and the larger church) to come together in the context of social justice to learn, network, reflect, and act for justice.  Teach-In attendees represent twenty-eight Jesuit universities, over twenty-five Jesuit high schools, Jesuit parishes, Jesuit volunteer communities, and many other Catholic institutions and organizations.

Started in 1997, in Columbus, Georgia, the IFTJ takes place in mid-November to commemorate the Jesuit martyrs of El Salvador. The six Jesuit priests and two companions were murdered on November 16, 1989, in El Salvador for their work advocating on behalf of the economically poor in that country.  The IFTJ moved from Georgia to Washington, DC, in 2010, to respond to the growing interest in integrating educational opportunities and legislative advocacy into the Teach-in experience.

At the age of 10, Gabriel Bol Deng fled his home village of Ariang in South Sudan in 1987 after it was attacked by North Sudan Murahileen militiamen. He fled, not knowing the fate of his parents or siblings. After his escape, Gabriel embarked on a harrowing, four month journey across the Nile River and the untold miles of desert, surviving disease and paralyzing hunger to reach Ethiopia. While at refugee camp in Ethiopia, Gabriel first learned English by writing on cardboard with pieces of charcoal. Four years later, he fled from violence again, leaving Ethiopia and traveling cross country to Kenya, where he lived and continued his primary and secondary education. It was in the refugee camps that Gabriel first realized the importance of literacy education.

In 2001, Gabriel came to Syracuse, New York under the U.S refugee resettlement program. In 2007 he graduated from Le Moyne College with a Bachelors’ Degree in Mathematics education and Philosophy. He was named the Student Teacher of the Year by Le Moyne College. It was education that gave Gabriel the hope for a better future and inspired him to found HOPE for Ariang foundation with the mission of promoting peace in South Sudan by educating its children, empowering women by providing economic opportunities, beginning with Gabriel’s native village of Ariang. He believes education not only offers a brighter future to the children of Ariang village, but also is the key to achieving lasting peace and sustainable development in South Sudan.

In May 2007, Gabriel returned to South Sudan after 20 years to look for his family, a journey documented in an Award- winning documentary, Rebuilding Hope.  The film has received several awards and has been shown at various film festivals all over the world in cities like Tokyo, Paris, London, Mumbai, and New York City.

Gabriel now speaks about his life story and the mission of HOPE for Ariang in schools and organizations throughout the United States and around the world. His dream of building a school in his native village of Ariang is now being realized. The construction of the school was completed in May 2011.

Other keynote speakers at the IFTJ include:

Sr. Simone Campbell, S.S.S., executive director of NETWORK Catholic Social Justice Lobby;
Merlys Mosquera Chamat, regional director of Jesuit Refugee Services-Latin America and Caribbean;
Rev. Fred Kammer, S.J., director of the Jesuit Social Research Institute at Loyola University New Orleans;

The Teach-In also offers 50+ breakout sessions presented by national and international speakers including Most Rev. Bernard Unabali, Bishop of the Diocese of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea.

On Saturday evening, attendees will gather at Lower Senate Park (adjacent to Capitol Hill) for a public vigil to call attention to the importance of legislative advocacy in working for social justice and build momentum for ISN’s Ignatian Family Advocacy Month in February 2013.  Speakers include Rev. Richard Ryscavage, S.J., director of the Center for Faith and Public Life at Fairfield University.

The celebrant for the Teach-In Liturgy on Sunday, November 18, is Rev. Drew Kirchman, S.J., a teacher at Arrupe High School in Denver, Colorado.

The Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice is sponsored by the University of San Francisco, Jesuit School of Theology at Berkley, America Magazine, Appalachian Institute at Wheeling Jesuit University, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, and Loyola Press.

MEDIA NOTE: Teach-In, Liturgy, and Public Vigil include photo, video, and interview opportunities

Click HERE to view the Teach-In schedule.

The Ignatian Solidarity Network promotes leadership and advocacy among students, alumni, and other emerging leaders from Jesuit schools, parishes, and ministries by educating its members on social justice issues; by mobilizing a national network to address those issues; and by encouraging a life-long commitment to the “service of faith and the promotion of justice.”  ISN is an independent lay-led 501(c)(3) organization.  More information can be found at:


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