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Friday, November 14, 2014

November's Lunch and Learn to Feature "Lost Boy of Sudan," Manyang Reath Ker

Manyang Reath Ker, Wednesday's Lunch and Learn speaker
There are situations in which someone could be forgiven for giving up hope, and this month’s lunch and learn speaker, Manyang Reath Ker, has been in many of them. Manyang, a “Lost Boy” displaced by the Sudanese civil war, spent 13 years of his young life hungry, homeless and displaced in refugee camps along the border between Sudan and Ethiopia. But during these impossibly difficult times, Manyang spent whatever time and resources he could reaching out to the family he’d lost in the Sudanese civil war.

With the help of the Restoring Family Links (RFL) service offered by the International Committee of the Red Cross, Manyang made attempts to contact his mother and reassure her that he was still alive. When he finally received refugee status at age 17, Manyang came to the United States, but never relented in his efforts to reconnect with his family. One could forgive Manyang for moving on with his newfound life in the U.S., for immersing himself in the life of a teenager and college student and turning away from his past in Sudan. But Manyang gives the distinct impression that he is actually incapable of giving up.

“I wrote letters, probably… over three hundred letters trying to locating my mother and find out where my family was,” Manyang said. “I wrote again and again, and in 2011, I got a letter saying they’d found my mother. And I talked to my mother for the first time in 20 years.” It was the first time he’d been in contact with his mother since the age of three.

Manyang is now an RFL volunteer with the Red Cross, as well as the founder of an organization called Humanity Helping Sudan, which provides food aid and education to Sudanese refugees. As a volunteer and a Good Samaritan, Manyang says he is personally dedicated to ensuring that the Red Cross and the RFL program are recognized for how they helped him and his family. “The American Red Cross was very good for me. When I give a talk, or when anyone asks me about my personal life story, I talk about the Red Cross because there is no way they’re separated,” he said.

Manyang hopes that the audience at the Lunch and Learn event will come away from the event with a better understanding of how each human being is connected to those who endure suffering like what he lived through in Sudan. “That’s what’s important: I want to talk about the humanity. It’s something in our DNA... we have the power to talk about what we want to change,” he said. “And I believe we can change lives for the better.”

The Lunch and Learn lecture will be presented at the American Red Cross, 444 Sherman St. at these times:

  •  Wednesday, Nov. 19, from noon to 1 p.m. - RSVP via  this SurveyMonkey link
  • Wednesday, Nov. 19, from 5:70-7:30 p.m. - RSVP here.
Webinar options are also available for remote audiences. For more information, contact Tim Bothe at (303) 607-4785.

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