Martin Kitara Ongwec, a community organizer and activist, recently visited Mama Hellen’s School. Martin was born in Pajok, South Sudan, and is part of the Acholi Tribe – the same tribe Mama Hellen and her family belong to. Martin immigrated to the United States in 1992 with his mother, father and siblings. They settled in Kansas City. Martin heard Mama Hellen speak at a regional gathering of the South Sudanese community in the United States and was inspired to visit the school when he traveled back to South Sudan. In late July, Martin met with the Mama Hellen Advisory Team via Zoom and updated them on his visit to the school and his hopes for the future of South Sudan. Martin said he hopes to inspire the people of South Sudan to tell their own stories – to be their own representatives and to use their creativity to address challenges facing the country. Creativity can be tamped down when people are struggling to survive the trauma of war, conflict and violence. Martin currently works with “Samaritans Wingz,” a non-profit that assists refugees and immigrants with the resettlement by providing support through interpretive services, assisting with navigating government forms and resources for housing, personal hygiene and education. He is working to create a sustainable phone bank in South Sudan to help people reconnect with family members and loved ones. Martin has agreed to collaborate with the Mama Hellen Advisory Team. Welcome, Martin!

Photo: Community organizer and activist, Martin Kitara Ongwec, encourages students at Mama Hellen’s School to “find your voice!”