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  • On July 6, three South Sudanese “Lost Boys” Amal Athieu, Mario Bol and Benjamin Machar helped Orphan Grain Train volunteers load a shipping container to send to South Sudan.
    Photo by Gracie Fairfax
    On July 6, three South Sudanese “Lost Boys” Amal Athieu, Mario Bol and Benjamin Machar helped Orphan Grain Train volunteers load a shipping container to send to South Sudan.
  • On July 6, three South Sudanese “Lost Boys” Amal Athieu, Mario Bol and Benjamin Machar helped Orphan Grain Train volunteers load a shipping container to send to South Sudan.
    Photo by Gracie Fairfax
    On July 6, three South Sudanese “Lost Boys” Amal Athieu, Mario Bol and Benjamin Machar helped Orphan Grain Train volunteers load a shipping container to send to South Sudan.
  • On July 6, three South Sudanese “Lost Boys” Amal Athieu, Mario Bol and Benjamin Machar helped Orphan Grain Train volunteers load a shipping container to send to South Sudan.
    Photo by Gracie Fairfax
    On July 6, three South Sudanese “Lost Boys” Amal Athieu, Mario Bol and Benjamin Machar helped Orphan Grain Train volunteers load a shipping container to send to South Sudan.

“A Good Drop”

Gracie Fairfax
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July 17, 2017

Orphan Grain Train Sends Supplies To South Sudan

In a country where grocery shopping is seen as a chore, it may be hard to imagine a place where hunger and a lack of access to clean water is the norm.

On the morning of July 6, volunteers gathered at the Christian volunteer network Orphan Grain Train’s warehouse in Millersville to load a 40-foot shipping container to send to South Sudan, an area that experienced 50 years of civil war between 1955 and 2005 before becoming an independent nation in 2011. The container will include clothing, shoes, dried foods, hygiene kits, medical equipment and an ophthalmologist’s anterior vitrectomy device donated by the practice of Dr. Maria Scott at Anne Arundel Medical Center. The Anglican Relief and Development Fund also gave $3,000 to offset the cost of shipping.

“You know the Lord has blessed us to be a blessing,” said Elfie Eberle, manager of Orphan Grain Train’s Maryland branch.

Despite gaining independence in 2011, South Sudan still suffers from conflict, economic challenges and a lack of infrastructure. The hope felt at the start of independence in 2011 has since faded, and in late February of 2017, a famine was declared in the country. While the country is no longer in famine, almost 2 million people are on the brink of starvation, according to UN reports.

Three notable volunteers present at Orphan Grain Train’s warehouse on July 6 were Amal Athieu, Mario Bol and Benjamin Machar. The three men, who are now American citizens, were born in the region that is now South Sudan.

“If somebody from another part of the world cares about the story of what is going on with my people, what about me, someone who was born there?” Bol said. “So I’m coming here basically to see what is being brought to my area and to do something to help.”

Currently living in Annapolis, the three men fled then-Sudan while they were children during the second civil war, which lasted from 1983 to 2005. They and the other boys who fled during this time are known as the Lost Boys of South Sudan. After time spent in refugee camps, they had the opportunity to come to America to begin a new life. Athieu originally resettled in Atlanta, Georgia, Bol in San Jose, California, and Machar in Burlington, Vermont. In 2002, Jim and Loraine Hiskey of Bay Area Community Church in Annapolis met the Lost Boys and have since helped the Lost Boys rebuild their lives in the US.

All have had great success as they’ve navigated life in a new country. Athieu previously worked at Anne Arundel Medical Center and is now in a graduate program at the University of Maryland University College. Machar has a doctorate in political science from Howard University and teaches at Towson University. Bol has a master’s degree in government and international law and security studies from Johns Hopkins.

“I’m very thankful to the church for mobilizing the resources and shipping them to South Sudan,” Machar said. “I’ve done nothing. I have to be thankful to those who have sacrificed so much to donate and mobilize the resources for the people of South Sudan.”

Another Lost Boy, Daniel Deng Abot, was resettled in Australia, became an Episcopal priest and is now an Episcopal bishop in South Sudan. Abot will work with other bishops to help distribute the supplies sent by Orphan Grain Train to churches and medical facilities.

In addition to the materials packed inside the shipping container, the container itself will have a door and windows added to become a sewing school.

“We’ve sent 13 sewing machines and fabric and sewing supplies, so a sewing school will be established because Bishop Daniel said that would be very valuable,” Eberle said. “It teaches them a marketable skill so that mothers can feed their children.”

The sewing machines were purchased using about $6,000 raised by children in Lutheran schools from Maryland down to South Carolina — a part of a “Hearts for Jesus” program through the Southeastern District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

“We are humbled by just being part of helping, and I know this is a drop in the bucket,” Eberle said.

But to the men who call South Sudan their homeland, any bit of help means the world.

“This is a good drop,” Athieu replied.


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