Michael and Deborah are on the Move

Published August 20, 2013

Below is a letter Michael recently sent out to many of his contacts. He and Deborah have experienced quite the year of transition with the birth of their baby Ayak, Deborah’s return to Austrailia to get an MBA and Michael’s upcoming and permeant move to South Sudan. Please read below for his perspective on the status of the school and his family:

Jalle School Project

Let me begin with the school project as many of you would like to know the progress of the school building and how it has been going. The skyline of the Jalle School has changed and we are very thankful to you for making it a reality! It has taken us several trips to the site before we could see the building standing tall above our heads.

I have to admit the long distant coordination has been very challenging. South Sudan has two seasons: the dry season and the rainy season. Once the dry is missed, building has to wait until the next dry season. Our former executive director, Blake Clark, had traveled to South Sudan three times for the purpose to plan, oversee and document the project. All of his trips have been met with seasonal challenges mainly heavy rainfalls which make it impossible to build. As you know we are a group of volunteers, we could not commit 100% of our time to the project because we have bills to pay and families to care for. Lack of resources has some contribution to the interruptions of construction. Through the process of this journey, we have met incredible people who want to help and make difference in people’s lives. In the mid of 2012, I was contacted by a man from North Carolina who is a civil engineer by profession wanting to help. He paid his own way to South Sudan in March of 2013 to check on how the building was built. Many of you have invested time and money in this project and we cannot thank you enough for your unwavering support.

Here is the visual view of the erected building with the community elders and future students standing proud in front of it. (Click here for our most recent project update)


Viability of any organization or institution is based on effective leadership. Rebuild Sudan is so fortunate to have effective board under the leadership of Jill Sornson Kurtz whom I met couple years ago in San Francisco. Upon joining this organization Jill work tire sly with the board members to provide leadership needed for the success of our project. She went to South Sudan in 2009 as part of the design team. She travelled again in April of 2013 with her father Paul Sornson to document the project, to meet with community leaders and the future students of our school. Her report about the trip can found on our website at www.rebuildsouthsudan.org.

I am also pleased to share our project has won an International Design Award (SEED Award) and Jill Kurtz and myself were named as Advocates on the top 100 list of Global Public Interest Designers. We were able to present the project at the University of Minnesota for over 300 people. Our presentation was a crowd favorite and many were brought to tears not only by my story, but by the vision and hope of what we are trying to accomplish.

Birth of Ayak Kuany

Regardless of the difficulty of this work, my wife Deborah and I are grateful for the gift of life, the birth of our beloved daughter Ayak Kuany. She was born on January 28, 2013 and I can’t believe she is already five months old. Time flies without knowing it.  We are grateful to all of our family and friends for being supportive of us. We could not wish for better family and friends than you. As we enjoy holding Ayak, we are attaching her first picture of her sitting up.

Move to South Sudan

In the last several months, Deborah and I have been contemplating where we want to be and how we can better serve in the rebuilding of South Sudan. We painfully made a decision to move back to South Sudan where I will move there first to find a job and set up our house without Deborah and Ayak. At the beginning of June, Deborah and Ayak went to Australia and they are staying with my older sister while I am in the process to go to South Sudan in mid-August 2013. It is painful to be apart from them but know this separation is only temporary.

My presence on the ground in South Sudan will help Rebuild South Sudan in the coordination process overseeing, and buying of building materials. I am hoping to be joined by my family once I am settled, meaning when I have a place for them to stay. I will be coming to the United States once a year and I will be updating our team in the United States so that you are informed of our activities on the ground. Rebuild South Sudan has been solely reliant on resources in the United States so once I am there I will start to look for grants that are available for local organizations like ours in South Sudan.

South Sudan 2nd anniversary

On July 9, 2013, the Republic of South Sudan marked her 2nd anniversary as an independence state from the Republic of Sudan. This is a great sign of working together. This independence did not come because South Sudanese won their freedom through war, this came about when the world joined their efforts together especially the United States and said enough had happened to these people and it is time for peace. There are many challenges facing the young nation, but I am hopeful these challenges can be overcome.

Before my departure for South Sudan, I am hoping to raise $10,000 to cover the roofing cost so that school can become operational in 2014. I ask you once again to consider financially contribution to Rebuild South Sudan so that we can finish the school we started together. We cannot reach our goal of this project without your support. Your donation of $500, $250, $100 or $50 to the Jalle school will change the lives of thousands children and their future families in South Sudan.

Thank you in advance for helping Rebuild South Sudan fulfills its mission: to build a foundation for returning refugees, education the future generation, and promote peace for a generation that has known only war. Thank you also for making my childhood dream becomes a reality.


Michael A. Kuany, Founder & President

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