Mama Hellen Lotara's Biography

Hellen Lotara was born in 1958 in the village of Abara in South Sudan. When she was very young, her parents moved the family to Uganda for safety. They sent Hellen’s younger brother to school, but did not see education as a priority for Hellen because she was a girl. An uncle of Hellen’s advocated for her and persuaded her parents to send her to school in Uganda when she was 10 years old. Hellen embraced education and worked very hard to advance.

In 1985, Hellen earned a degree in Public Administration and Management from the University of Juba in South Sudan. In 1994 she completed studies in Business Administration from the Kenya Institute of Management. She served as the Under-Secretary of Labor of South Sudan, overseeing employment and industrial relations. She also served as Director General of Labor and was responsible for industrial labor relations. In addition, Hellen is a founding member of the Justice and Peace Committee in the city of Juba. For many years, Hellen has dedicated herself to community development. Her life experience inspires her to make a difference in the lives of children through education.

In 2013, Hellen founded the Mama Hellen Lotara Nursery and Primary school in Abara, a remote, rural village with little access to education. The mission of Mama Hellen Lotara Nursery and Primary School is to prepare children and youth to be responsible citizens by providing them with quality education and promoting values that can bring about positive change in South Sudan and the world. Hellen is passionate about making education accessible to all students, especially girls, students with limited financial resources, and those who have been traumatized by war and conflict. The motto of Mama Hellen’s School is: Enter to learn…Depart to serve.”

In 2017, Hellen came to Minnesota to join members of her family who had left refugee camps and resettled in St. Cloud to escape violence in South Sudan. Hellen immediately immersed herself in learning about her new home. She attended numerous meetings focused on building a stronger community and creating bridges that promote cross-cultural understanding.

Through connections with the Community Foundation and the League of Women’s Voters, Hellen built relationships with a group of community volunteers and activists who came together to form “Mama Hellen’s Team.” The Team works with Hellen and with teachers and administrators at the school in South Sudan to raise awareness and financial support for Mama Hellen’s School. The team includes two attorneys serving on a pro bono basis who have helped establish the best legal structure to support Hellen’s school and sustain it into the future.

Hellen is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Education Administration and Leadership at St. Cloud State University. Hellen’s goal is to utilize her education to create the best possible governance of her school in South Sudan, develop and solidify best practices, ensure transparency and accountability, and identify bench marks to measure success.

During the past two years, Mama Hellen’s Team has raised funds for Mama Hellen’s School. New toilets have been constructed to provide healthier conditions for the students and teachers. The construction has brought a renewed sense of hope and pride back to the people of Abara. In addition, the work of Mama Hellen’s Team is building strong relationships among citizens of Central Minnesota and the South Sudanese community in Minnesota, throughout the United States and in South Sudan.


After School programs


Years Established

Get In Touch

Location: Abara, Panyikwara, South Sudan

Telephone: (320) 282-8444


School Hours: M-F: 8am – 3pm

Non-Discrimination Policy

Mama Hellen Primary and Nursery does not discriminate in any form. We do not condon gender, colour, creed or religious discrimination. We respect the rights of individuals of different backgrounds and we welcome different tribes to our school. If you feel you have been discriminated against, please report that to