On May 16th, 1983, a civil war broke out between Southern Sudan and Northern Sudan. This war regrettably displaced millions of people from their homes, especially in Southern Sudan. Many lived in displaced camps in Southern Sudan and eventually fled to refugee camps in neighboring countries in Kenya, Ethiopian, Uganda and Egypt.
Eventually, a rare opportunity to be resettled on the grounds of humanitarian priority by the US government was granted to residents of the refugee camps. After vigorous screening through the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Sudanese refugees were approved for resettlement. This process took close to two years to complete, prior to moving to Vermont and many other states in the US.
The first Sudanese refugees arrived in Vermont before 2000. However, most of our members came as a group of young men famously known as the “Lost Boys of Sudan” in the early 2000. Just imagine what it was like to come from a refugee camp to Vermont’s winter for the first time. We have so many stories to tell about winter and America in general.
To help ease the transition, many Vermonters and churches stepped in through the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program (VRRP) and opened their doors, acting as host families. Through these host families, churches and friends, we built strong relationships that helped us to enroll in school, find jobs, getting a driver’s license and housing.
Our resettlement in Vermont would have been a challenging process had it not been for the generosity of many friends in our state. As our community grew, we established the Sudanese Community Living in Vermont (SCIVT) as a platform to adapt to a new home and host future new arrivals. The creation of SCIVT served as an informal outreach to state and local organizations.
Although the challenges of a new home were enormous, many in our community worked hard and excelled by achieving one of the pillars of the American dream, an education. We have always believed that we came too far not to invest in education. That is why many of the resettled Sudanese attended schools and earned the highest possible colleges degrees and certifications in various fields. This priority remained rightly so as one of the most important goal in our community to pursue and be an equal contributors in our new home.
Today, our community has grown from just few young men to families and children. Though this change, we have to come to realize that a targeted mentorship program for both children and adults are of great need in our community.In order to address these challenges, the Sudanese Foundation of Vermont Inc (SUDFUND) was established on April 30th, 2016 as a platform to launch targeted and intensive outreach initiatives to secure resources to address educational support to children in our community and their families. Our goal is to help the children to receive quality education and become successful Vermonters.