June 24th – 26th | Omaha, Nebraska

The 2nd Annual South Sudan Unite (SSU) event held in Omaha, NE was a three-day event that took place on Friday, June 24th, 2016 to Sunday, June 26th, 2016. The first day of SSU 2016 consisted of a youth-led workshop, a community festival, a star-studded cultural event and party with Luol Deng. The purpose of SSU is to create a space where the South Sudanese communities in the United States can unite through the celebration of our rich and diverse culture, find common grounds to address the struggles and expose our talents, creatives and professional attributes. With positivity, SSU aimes to highlight the similarities we share, as well as the differences towards a more complex unity based on the understanding that variations enrich human interactions.

Day 1

The workshop

Day 2

Morning: Family Community Festival
Evening: Cultural Night & Fashion and Arts Showcase

Day 3

Community Celebration

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The Workshop

The Omaha workshop’s approach was to ensure that the South Sudanese youth of Omaha can create a space to discuss, explore and innovate in addition to learning about youth leadership. John Prendergast of the Enough Project was the guest speaker who kicked off the event. The Workshop was participant-driven were they identified issues affecting their communities, explored possible solutions and agreed on at least two projects to pursue for the betterment of the community and families. The workshop also included the South Sudan Women Group who shared Desmund Tutu’s message of the importance of forgiveness and ensured that every participant received the Book of Forgiveness as an additional learning tool.

The Community Festival Day

The Community Festival Day was a colourful event that provided smiles across many faces, especially the children and youth who were elated to spend time with Luol Deng and participated in basketball games which included pick up and three-on-three basketball games. The South Sudan women and girls cooked and prepared a big South Sudanese fest for event participants. Everyone enjoyed listening and dancing to selected African and traditional music played by DJ Biggie.

The Cultural and Fashion Night

South Sudanese models walked the runway with African Print designs and couture for the Cultural and Fashion Night. Emmanuel Kembe, Dynamic, Meve Alange and Baf Jay were some of the notable artist who encouraged everyone to dance the night away. Luol Deng interviewed South Sudanese activist, fashion creators, professionals and business owners. One of the interviewees was Manyang Reath Kher who talked about his prosperous South Sudanese coffee business, 734 Coffee. Manyang also discussed his story of becoming a refugee of the Sudanese civil war. Manyang is one of the Lost Boys, a group of 20,000 boys who were displaced and orphaned. Mayang was separated from his family. His story is one that many South Sudanese can relate to. It is one that demonstrates that if someone like him can achieved a lucrative and booming business, others are just as capable of greatness too.

Manyang is the Founder and Executive of Humanity Helping Sudan Project. Humanity Helping Sudan runs on the ground programs at refugee camps where they provide fishing nets, agricultural programs, and community gardens, reaching 40,000 displaced people.

Luol Deng also interviewed the Ladies of Sosa who are a diverse group of young women hailing from different states and tribes of South Sudan. Ladies of Sosa at the time had a Social Media talk called Ladies of Sosa that covered topics that South Sudanese youth face, such as arranged marriages and the roles of South Sudanese women culture vs modern day. Among the interviewees was Koang Doluony, a young South Sudanese coach and mentor to many boys in his community.

South Sudan Unite 2016 ended with an after party to celebrate the three day event as it came to a successful close.

South Sudan Unite logo
Luol Deng Foundation logo