Sudanese refugee graduates college, helps another student, returns home
By Michael Ireland
Senior International Correspondent, ASSIST News Service
SALT LAKE CITY (ANS) – Dut Aguer Bior was separated from his family as a child in Sudan. When he was six years old, he traveled 1,000 miles to a refugee camp in Ethiopia, where he would spend the rest of his adolescence.
According to a media release obtained by ANS, at the refugee camp, Bior met fellow Sudanese refugee Malaak Ayuen. At age 4, Ayuen’s mother died. His grandmother looked after him for a few years until he was forced to leave Sudan for the refugee camp. At the camp, Bior and Ayuen became schoolmates and friends.
After several years, the news release says, Bior was selected to go to the United States, while Ayuen was not. Before he left, Bior promised his friend that he would do his best to help Ayuen.
And he did. Even before he had a job in the United States, Bior started mailing money back to his friend for school. Soon, Bior enrolled in a computer skills program at Salt Lake Community College (SLCC) and landed an entry-level job as a technical support specialist, according to the news update from the college.
The news release says Bior continued sending money to Ayuen while saving money so that he could enter and complete his own college studies. And he kept sending money even after he enrolled full-time at SLCC.
Bior attended a reunion for Sudanese refugees in 2009, the news release says.
Touched by what he heard at the conference—its theme was “What are you doing to give back?”—he decided to found the Student Orphan Aid Program. This non-profit organization expanded on his own efforts to help provide scholarships to African orphans—giving them a chance at an education.
On May 4, Bior graduated from Salt Lake Community College, the news release states. With his help, his friend Ayuen is preparing to graduate from Uganda’s Ndejje University. Bior hopes Ayuen is the first of many he will help achieve a college degree.
The news release goes on to say that Bior has plans to see the fruits of his hard work—and the hard work of his friend—first hand.
While working full-time and preparing to attend university in the fall, Bior is also looking to secure funds to finance a trip back to Africa to meet his friend and see his family for the first time since he was five years old. He’s currently looking to put his associate’s degree to work by finding a second job working with computers—in addition to his current position working for a bank to help pay for the trip.
“Yes, I want to go back to see Malaak and to share the experience of graduation with him,” Bior said. The same week, he will travel to Kenya to see his own family. “I communicate with them every week via phone, but I haven’t seen or met with them in person for so long, I can’t wait to get there.”
While in Africa, Bior will try to advance the work of the Student Orphan Aid Program. But first, he’s engaged in helping the cause here. He has taken the initial steps necessary to set up a race to benefit the charity. The event will be either a 5 or 10 kilometer run, the news release says.
Not content to simply work behind the scenes, Bior is entered in the Ragnar Wasatch Back race—a 200 mile team relay race in the Wasatch Mountain range, “both to improve my good health, and so that I can better understand what goes into running and organizing for my charity race,” he said. Bior is one of his team’s 12 runners, and is slated to run three legs of 6.4, 8.2, and 3 miles during the race.
“I don’t get to train as much as I’d like for the race. Time just doesn’t allow for it,” he said. He is busy. But he isn’t averse to receiving help—a friend who works as a personal trainer oversees Bior’s workouts. “Yes, he’s getting me ready. He knows a lot. I couldn’t do it without him.” Bior’s work may soon have many thinking the same about him.