I met Deb at the first ASAH meeting in July of 2007, although we weren’t an organization with a name, then. She knew exactly what we needed to do: go to Duk Payuel, South Sudan, make a documentary that asked “What can we do to help?” and then follow through on whatever the answer to that question turned out to be. By December 2007 she had a trip for four (me, her, Joseph Akol Makeer, and Matt McGregor) organized and we were South Sudan bound. The documentary came out about a year later and the ASAH School plans began to take shape. Trying to build a school in South Sudan turned out to be harder than we imagined (because you really can’t imagine how hard it is going to be!), but in 2010, Deb committed to visiting Duk Payuel two or three times a year. She earned the respect of the people in the village as well as people in our community and beyond; the project absolutely took off. Three years later, the ASAH school “Protects, Educates, and Empowers 34 orphaned girls; it is a source of employment for 14 women and men in Duk Payuel as well as builders and laborer; it is a source of pride for the village and county as the ASAH girls excel in school and set high standards for all the children in Duk County, South Sudan.
I hope all of you reading this will join me on the occasion of Deb’s 60th birthday (Sept. 24th) and thank her through your words and donation to $60,000 for ASAH School for Orphaned Girls on Deb Dawson’s 60th Birthday.
Deb has taught me to jump into a project with both feet. She has shown perseverance beyond belief that makes me and all who know her stronger. Can you imagine arriving in Duk Payuel after a couple of days of long travel, finding out that the water tower structure has brackets and bolts that are too weak to hold it up, immediately striking out on a terrible 11 hour ride to Juba (rather than a 10 minute trip to Scheels) to pick up supplies, getting back to the compound to build the tower, and then finding out that the water tank has a hole in it? Most people would have thrown in the towel, but Deb didn’t. I get emails from her regularly when she is in Duk and I am comfortably at home in Fargo, and I shake my head in disbelief learning about the near-misses, the chaos of traveling, the obstacle, and yet every trip is a success, more and more buildings get built, and most importantly, more and more girls join the program.
The ASAH school is REALLY close to functioning at full capacity! If we can get two more dorms built, we can provide housing and protection for 50 girls. We will still need to find sponsorships, cover salaries, build some more toilets and showers, and take care of unexpected expenses, but being able to bring 50 girls into the school is the key. The Education, Protection and Empowerment we provide is already changing the lives of the ASAH girls, their extended families, and their communities. Every girl we support allows the resources in their extended families to go further. Every girl from a new village extends the reach of the ASAH program so that we aren’t just transforming individual lives, but families, villages, and a whole county. Imagine the impact 50 educated women will have in a country with a literacy rate of 1% for women.
$60,000 for Deb’s 60th birthday is an ambitious goal, but perfect for her: bold, aiming beyond the ordinary, and really, in the end, it isn’t about her at all. Please consider leaving your birthday wishes and a donation that is bold, beyond the ordinary, and totally appropriate for Deb’s 60th birthday. http://www.crowdrise.com/ASAHDawson
ASAH Vice President
Deb’s biggest fan!