Our Work

Organizational Mission

The Deng Ater foundation is a public, Tucson, Arizona based, 501c3 non-profit organization committed to providing the opportunity of an education to all children of southern Sudan.


With two civil wars fought back-to-back, southern Sudan has seen a massive displacement of it’s people, a total collapse of it's social and economic infrastructure, the increase or spread of preventable and treatable diseases, and massive severe suffering for the entire population of the south.

The poverty is unendurable, the illiteracy is immeasurable, and although the violence has ended in the south, those families left behind living in the rural towns and villages are among some of those hardest hit by the four decades of civil war and its related genocide.

Regrettably, the children as always have suffered most these ill effects of war...

A recent study conducted by the New Sudan Center for Statistics & Evaluation in association with UNICEF states…

“Children in southern Sudan have the least access to primary education in the world. The net enrollment ratio in primary school is the worst in the world. Equally southern Sudan has the lowest ratio of female to male enrollment. In other words, only one out of every five children of school age is in class and around three times more boys than girls are at school.

In terms of primary school completion, southern Sudan has the lowest rate worldwide. Only one out of every 50 children finishes primary school. With a population of 7.5 million, only 500 girls finish primary school each year while 2,000 boys finish. The share of cohort reaching grade 5 is the least in the world.

Southern Sudan is second in terms of worst adult literacy rate in the world. Three out of every four adults are illiterate and about one of every ten female adults is literate.

The 'misleading' teacher-to-pupil ratio (1/33) is better than other countries in the region, but far less than that of the rest of Sudan. Only 7% of the teachers are trained in the sense of having received at least one year of pre-service training. Of the 93% of teachers having received less than a year of training, half of teachers had no training at all and the other half have received from two weeks to a few months of in-service training. And to underscore the discrimination against women, only 7% of the teachers are female.

Massive investment in the education system is needed in Southern Sudan. Only 1,600 schools exist for the 1.6 million children of school age, only 10% of the classrooms are in permanent buildings, 80% of the children have no bench to sit on and only one third of the schools have access to latrines and half have access to safe clean water…”

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Our Beginning

The Deng Ater Foundation was conceived of by (One of The Lost Boys of Sudan and exile from Duk County, now a US Citizen and Graduate Student at the University of Arizona) & his good friend and associate , during a visit to southern Sudan and several townships within in the state of Jonglei between the 10th of May and the 6th of July 2007.

After assessing the great need and compelled to act, Mr. Ater & Mr. Dains decided to take the necessary steps to create a public non-profit 501c3 organization in order to fund an educational process that will provide the opportunity of an education to all children of southern Sudan.

Our Objectives For 2008/2009

Our team will be returning to southern Sudan to register as an indigenous Non Governmental Organization (NGO) with the South Sudan Relief & Rehabilitation Commission (SSRRC) and the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) in December 2008/January 2009.

A preliminary site visit and survey will be made to determine a suitable building site, to check on site conditions, the type of soils in the area, the costs and availability of local building materials, water sources available, costs of imported materials and the accessibility of roads, etc.

Our "Initial Program Objectives" through December 2008/January 2009 are to create "Immediate Impact Zones" within the townships of Mareng, Duk Fadiat and Duk Faiwil, by providing public healthcare prevention and education campaigns to save lives.

By promoting "safe, best practices" of basic hygiene, sanitation, water purification, proper food preparation and storage, how to "prevent" and/or "treat" simple diseases, as well as promoting Mine Risk Education, the community will learn the importance and roll prevention & education plays in the treatment of simple diseases, in addition to how these "safe, best practices" will have a positive long-lasting impact on the community at large.

This "Initiative" will minimize the deaths occurring within these communities and ultimately stabilize the local population, and by sharing this much needed healthcare information & education, we hope to create an "Immediate Impact" and save lives with the message of "treatment" and "prevention" upon our arrival.

We have adopted a self-sustainable and economically feasible business model that can be easily duplicated, is financially assisted for a period of 3 years and is fully self-sustainable directly thereafter. By using this model, our schools will be self-sustaining after 3 years, allowing them to continue without needing much, if any, financial assistance from our organization.

The "Secondary Program Objectives" are to generate the support needed, both through direct financial contributions and in-kind contributions of goods and services, in order to construct a total of three, 20 room Schools (Grades K-12) designed for 45 students per room, for a total of 900 Students; to fund all related training & payroll of staff; to provide all educational materials, supplies, equipment; as well as provide all related accommodations needed to support the schools, starting in the townships of Mareng -2009, Fayuel -2010, Padiet –2011.

Our Future Objectives Beyond 2011

Following the completion of the "Initial Objectives," our "Future Objectives" are to build an additional 50 schools throughout southern Sudan over the next 10 years, beginning in 2011 using the same business model. [To learn more.]

  • The Business Plan. [pdf]
  • Financial Statement avaialble upon request.

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A Sustainable Approach

The recently formed partnerships with Architects Without Borders, CS Africa & Necessity Housing are dedicated to providing our organization with the education required for building economically and environmentally sustainable villages in areas of the world where disaster has left people without adequate shelter, with unsafe housing conditions, and in communities experiencing chronic homelessness.

Our partners have worked tirelessly to support sustainable projects across Africa over the years and we feel that by working closely with them, using a Sustainable Village Development approach, that our new partnership is a critical first step in creating a viable, safe, secure and sustainable solution to the devastating humanitarian crisis that is facing southern Sudan today.

Working side-by-side we will work to establish and develop a Community with: Stakeholders responsibilities; Empowering governance structures; as well as Create sustainability by including: Community farming and enterprise zones; Installation of solar and recycling systems; Provide village safety and support plus Elder/Orphan and Daycare, teaching safe sanitation and hygiene practices, creating HIV/AIDs awareness campaigns, Healthcare/Education, adult literacy programs, skills/job training, offer employment opportunities by: Hiring and training residents for the construction of Schools, Community, Industrial & Opportunity Centers, housing, roads, wells, latrines, etc…

  • The Schools Building Plans. [pdf]
  • The Sustainable Village Master Plans. [pdf]
  • Necessity Housing PowerPoint. [pdf]

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The Sudanese Diaspora & Our Vision

With the signing of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) and the hopeful political settlement of the Sudanese conflict in Darfur looming, several humanitarian organizations have since become involved and tasked with the repatriation of refugees from refugee camps in neighboring countries and from the internally displaced population as well. It is estimated that well over 30+ thousand Internal Displaced People (IDPs) from Duk-County alone will have presumably been transported back to their areas over the next few years with this onset of peace.

Like Mr. Ater, many of The Lost Boys are now men and since the signing of the 2005 CPA they have begun to return to southern Sudan for the first time in over 20 years to help rebuild their communities. They hope the people of southern Sudan will gain autonomy from the North through secession in 2011, which will bring an end to all hostilities and establish a peaceful resolution between the North and South once and for all. [To learn more.]

"They are not lost anymore..."

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