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I just want to say my name is Emmanuel Jal. And I come from a long way. I've been telling a story that has been so painful for me. It's been a tough journey for me, traveling the world, telling my story in form of a book. And also telling it like now. And also, the easiest one was when I was doing it in form of a music.

So I have branded myself as a war child. I'm doing this because of an old lady in my village now, who has lost her children. There is no newspaper to cover her pain, and what she wants to change in this society. And I'm doing it for a young man who wants to create a change and has no way to project his voice because he can't write. Or there is no Internet, like Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, for them to talk.

Also, one thing that kept me pushing this story, this painful stories out, the dreams I have, sometimes, is like the voices of the dead, that I have seen would tell me, "Don't give up. Keep on going." Because sometimes I feel like stopping and not doing it because I didn't know what I was putting myself into.

Well, I was born in the most difficult time when my country was at war. I saw my village burned down. The world that meant a lot to me, I saw it vanish in my face. I saw my aunt in rape when I was only five. My mother was claimed by the war. My brothers and sisters were scattered. And up to now, me and my father were detached and I still have issues with him. Seeing people die every day, my mother crying, it's like I was raised in a violence. And that made me call myself a war child.

And not only that, when I was eight I became a child soldier.

I didn't know what was the war for. But one thing I knew was an image that I saw that stuck in my head. When I went to the training camp I say, "I want to kill as many Muslims, and as many Arabs, as possible." The training wasn't easy, but that was the driving force because I wanted to revenge for my family. I wanted to revenge for my village.
Luckily now things have changed because I came to discover the truth. What was actually killing us wasn't the Muslims, wasn't the Arabs. It was somebody sitting somewhere manipulating the system, and using religion to get what they want to get out of us, which is the oil, the diamond, the gold and the land. So realizing the truth gave me a position to choose: should I continue to hate, or let it go?

Published in World Changers

A child of Africa and refugee from war, Deng Mayik Atem came to the United States in 1995. Trained to be a child soldier, he has since received a college degree from Arizona State University and a master's degree in business administration. Currently working on his memoir, "A Journey Across Worlds, Deng hopes that his story will help Americans to understand the plight of refugees and to help the people of his homeland, South Sudan, to find meaningful dialog that will help end the civil war that ravishes his home.

You said in your article - "Our nation of South Sudan has been birthed with great pain. We have freed ourselves from oppressors and from foreign powers. The battle has been at a great price of suffering and the deaths of many of our brothers and sisters. While we can take pride in that which we have accomplished, we owe it to those who have fought and died for our freedom that we not allow our egos to distort victory into feeling that we are somehow better than others." - Deng Mayik Atem

No state, no tribe, no community has a claim on this shared accomplishment. It is all of us working together who have created our country. For us to build a better nation, we must avoid politics—especially negative politics—of identity or locality, because such beliefs pull people towards their lowest values rather than their highest achievements.


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As part of his personal efforts to help the children of South Sudan, Deng asks you to support The Foundation for the Children of South Sudan.   South Sudan is a nation of villages. The majority of our children are growing up without clean water, adequate healthcare, and education. No matter what their tribe, no matter what their region, our children are not being given adequate access to these three basics. The Foundation for the children of  South Sudan  wants to change that situation. Our mission is simple, to provide boys and girls living in small communities all over South Sudan with three foundation stones for their future: clean water, adequate healthcare, and basic education.


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The Foundation's Vision, South Sudan has many great resources, but the most wonderful of these is our people. Someday, educated South Sudanese from every tribe and region will be doctors, nurses, business people, engineers, scientists, teachers, artists, and more. They will be healthy and strong. They will be leaders in the world. Those people are the children of today. They can only reach that potential if such basic needs as water, healthcare, and education are available. Today we dig a well, bandage a cut, and sound out the letters in a new schoolbook; tomorrow we have the pride of being a nation of accomplishment.  You can DONATE Today.

 

 

2VERTIKAL LIVE Interview of Deng Mayik Atem  and hear an exclusive chapter from, "A Journey Across Worlds," narrated by Arlene McGuire.

 Deng Mayik Atem at Facebook

Links to Articles by Deng Mayik Atem

Published in VertiKal LIVE Radio
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