Joseph has graduated!

Deb Dawson, ASAH Producer, sent out this message on Friday:

Dear Friends of African Soul, American Heart,

Please join me in congratulating Joseph Akol Makeer on his graduation today from North Dakota State University where he earned a degree in Criminal Justice. You will probably agree that this is an extraordinary accomplishment for a 31-year-old man who spent his childhood trying to survive by escaping his war-torn country of South Sudan, who learned to read as a teen in a refugee camp, and who came to Fargo, North Dakota in September of 2003. In only 4 1/2 years since that day, he has earned a college degree, written a book, and inspired a group of talented people to help him tell the story of those who continue to suffer in his country and his desire to help the orphans there.

I am proud to announce African Soul, American Heart is now incorporated and our non-profit status is pending approval. Our board of directors is actively putting together information about costs for building materials, supplies, labor, and staffing so that we might build an orphan center in Duk Payuel, South Sudan, the village Joseph left as a ten-year-old.

Our film director and editor will be working hard over the summer to edit our documentary. We hope to have a rough cut by the end of August and a finished product by November. African Soul, American Heart (the movie) will be available then for showings and to submit to film festivals around the country to help us generate interest and funds to support these children who have no one to care for them.

For more information about our project and to VIEW A 3 MINUTE EXCERPT of our documentary, check our website.


To add a personal note, yesterday, as I was driving my Sudanese friend Joseph home from graduation, we heard this NPR story about Lost Boy Emmanuel Jal, now a successful musician. As Jal was describing walking to Ethiopia, then back to Sudan, and living through those incredibly difficult years in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I turned to Joseph and said, “can you believe that you were there, too, and now you are here, in Fargo ND, a graduate of NDSU?” He said he couldn’t believe it. I still can’t believe it.

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