David Jal, Founder
One of The Lost Boys of Sudan
I was born and raised in Northeast Africa in the Dunyal Village in Southern Sudan. My dream was to be a geography teacher. I did not plan on moving away but was forced out of my country when the civil war intensified in The Sudan. I was only 10 years old. My dream of teaching was replaced by the desire of surviving.
I learned that life was very complicated. Planning for the future and for a career is only a reality for children who are raised in peaceful nations, nations where freedom, equality, and education are a right and privilege for all children, and not just wishful thinking.
I spent nearly ten years in refugee camps in East Africa. I lived in the Itang Refugee Camp in Ethiopia from 1987 to 1992, and in the Walda, Ifo and Kakuma Refugee Camps in Kenya from 1992 to 1995.
In 1994, I was approved to be resettled in the United States and was able to come as a refugee in 1995. I resettled in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, which I call my home today. I still remember the welcoming reception and the helpfulness of the Refugee and Immigration Program upon my arrival.
I immediately decided to give back this courtesy to other refugees resettling here in Sioux Falls. Since my arrival in South Dakota, I have been involved with refugee communities and many other agencies. I help interpret for refugee and immigration programs, the courts, social service agencies, schools, employers, clinics, and hospitals, et cetera .
In 1998, I attended the University of South Dakota, and I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work in 2001. I was employed at the Lutheran Social Services Refugee and Immigration Program as a case manager.
In 2007, I received a fellowship through the Bush Foundation and was able to obtain a diploma in International Restorative Justice from Queen’s Theological College, in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, and obtained a Master’s Degree in Social Work from The University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, North Dakota.
Having received a second chance in life, it was my hope to be able to contribute to the community and to those who need help the most, the homeless and other disenfranchised populations.
My personal story shows how important education is and how it will make a difference. Most likely, I would not have had the opportunity to go to school, to graduate from college, and pursue an advanced degree in The Sudan. However, I do believe children in The Sudan should and will have educational opportunities in the future. My new dream is education for everyone. Please consider supporting my goal to build a school in my home town in the Khor Wakow Villages.