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'Lost Boys of Sudan' are coming to Schalmont

April 11, 2016

Lost Boys of SudanSchalmont will host a special pair of visitors on Friday night. Sebastian Maroundit and Mathon Noi, two of the “Lost Boys of Sudan,” characterized in the book A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park, will share their experiences with the Schalmont community at 7 p.m. Friday, April 15 in the high school theater.

As a New York State module book, for the past three years, A Long Walk to Water has been a required reading text for seventh graders at Schalmont. Though the novel is fiction, it is based on the true story of children who escaped to Ethiopia from their war-torn village in Sudan. When war erupted in Ethiopia in 1991, the children spent a year walking across a desert to a refugee camp in Kenya. Maroundit and Noi were two of the children who were selected in 2001 to resettle in the United States.

The two now head up the non-profit Building Minds in South Sudan based out of Rochester that works to build schools in their former village in South Sudan and promote educational opportunities for girls in that country. Retired Schalmont High School Principal Ted Avgerinos also works with Building Minds and will be at the event Friday night.

“We really have Ted to thank for bringing these men and this opportunity to our area and to our school,” Schalmont teacher Elisa Pepe said. “Their story inspires me because, even with possible danger, they are giving back to their families and to generations of their people. As we read in the paper, South Sudan is not a safe place, so they are bold in their commitment to a better life for others. That's inspirational. And impressive.”

Pepe said the book often inspires students to take action for the children in Sudan.

“Each year, students engage with this narrative and ask to sell wristbands to raise money for Water for Sudan, Inc.,” Pepe said. “This year, when the opportunity presented itself, the students wanted to go a step farther and work to build a school in Sudan as well as bring two of the ‘Lost Boys’ to Schalmont.”

Students in grades 7-9 who have all read the book have been working together on the publicity for both the event and the fundraising effort and Schalmont senior Aby Tys created a public service announcement.

“There's nothing like the spirit of a seventh grader when it comes to taking up a cause. They have a strong desire to help. Strong enough, apparently to last for several years,” Pepe said. “The committee consists of two ninth graders, three eighth graders, and four seventh graders. Their excitement and commitment to this project has been a pleasure to watch.”

Fundraising to build a school in Sudan begins today. Donations of $1 will purchase a brick, $50 a window, and $100 a door. Students can make donations during lunch in both the middle and high school. Community members can make donations to the project on Friday night or send donations directly to:

Building Minds in South Sudan
5880 Pittsford-Palmyra Road
Pittsford, New York 14534-2444

View the Daily Gazette article