6 August, 2019
ADRA Australia is part of a global network and has offices all over the world. In Australia alone, we partner with 11 countries. Often we focus on what ADRA Australia has done within our borders and through these partner countries. But this means we can easily forget how far ADRA reaches across the world. A great reminder of the global impact that ADRA has comes through the story of Tito Tut Pal. Tito now lives in Australia, and below he shares his story of how he was able to partner with ADRA in South Sudan to help young kids in a town called Mading have access to education.
Tito Tut Pal:
Early 1996, I left the refugee camp where I had been studying in Ethiopia, because I was homesick. My age is uncertain and I was somewhere between 14 and 16 at the time, and just halfway through Grade 6. Shortly after that my relationship with ADRA began and twenty three years later, I regard myself as a member of the ADRA family.
The second Sudanese civil war was in full throttle and people were moving from one place to another to avoid conflict hotspots. I joined my family in Mading, a small seasonal town, a few hours’ drive on a dirt road from the Ethiopian border. Mading had an airstrip, and UN agencies including ADRA supplied everything.
Mading had one primary school in the centre of the town. With no classrooms or offices, everything was conducted under trees. ADRA administered the education aspect of the relief effort and worked closely with the United Nations’ Children Fund (UNICEF).
I offered to volunteer to teach the little I know and started teaching grade 1 and 2, approximately 50-60 students in each group.
I was the youngest of the teachers.
While Mading is a small town, the settlement spread into neighbouring smaller villages including a neighbourhood known as Mading Two. This is where many other children and I lived. A small swamp separates Mading One and Mading Two. During the rainy season, it flooded and became impassable for younger school children.
I decided to open the Mading Two Primary School and offer up to grade three, which the Headmaster in Mading One and the town administrator approved. Like Mading One, we ran everything under trees. So when it rained, I sent the kids home.
The news got out quickly that a new school opened in the neighbourhood, which meant kids didn’t have to cross the swamp anymore to go to school. When ADRA and UNICEF learned about it they pledged their full support.
Through ADRA’s advocating for me, I attended a teachers’ training course, Certificate I in teaching. After three months, I graduated top of the class. Over the next two years, I went on to complete Certificates II and III.
I loved teaching and watching kids learn and making a difference. Some of the children I taught went on to complete their school studies in different places such as, in Kenya, Sudan, and Ethiopia. A good number of them are now senior officials in the Government of South Sudan or working with aid agencies. Even now, they still call me ‘teacher’.
But I never forget it was only possible because others gave me a chance. We could not have run the school without the basic materials provided by ADRA and UNICEF. Their support and encouragement motivated and inspired me. I was only a young man, but I had the opportunity to contribute to community development initiatives, exchanging ideas with prominent people.
Twenty-three years on I still regard myself as a member of the ADRA family.
Thank you, ADRA.
Tito Tut Pal