I have a confession ... I'm cheating on this blessing which is supposed to be things found on the Internet. I actually found out about Valentino in a New York Times column by Nicholas D. Kristof (read here). But, he's too important to be overlooked by a technicality. Valentino Deng is a 30-year-old refugee from South Sudan, one of the "lost boys" of Sudan. Kristof writes, "Fleeing government soldiers, dodging land mines, eating leaves and animal carcasses, Valentino saw boys around him carried off and devoured by lions." Once he reached the safety of the refugee camp, Valentino learned to read and write by making letters in the dust with his fingers.
Valentino might have relaxed in his new life but, instead, he formed a foundation with author Dave Eggers and plowed their book earnings into building a high school in Valentino's hometown in Sudan. The school opened earlier this year with 100 students and hopes to eventually have 450 students, with an added goal of having 50% of the students being girls who typically have very little access to education. You can read more about Valentino and his school by clicking here. And, if you feel like supporting this project, you can buy the book, "What Is the What" by Dave Eggers ... or contribute directly online. This is one of those cases where a very little amount of money makes a big impact ... for instance, their website states:
Here are some specific ways you can support the students of Marial Bai:
* Sponsor a student for a monthly donation of $21. For another amount, email us.
* $9 provides a student with a backpack full of school supplies
* $30 provides a girl with a full set of textbooks
* $75 provides a bunk bed for the dorm
* $250 provides a girl's scholarship for a year
* $5,000 pays a salary for our first female teachers in 2010