Tom Prichard pursues peace, education in South Sudan
American Tom Prichard founded Sudan Sunrise to promote religious harmony and build schools in the new nation of South Sudan.
(Page 2 of 2)
Even the Darfurians were suspicious.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
In time, the Darfurian leaders in the camps came to see that the southerners were sincere. In turn, the Darfurians sent a letter to the southerners asking for forgiveness for past atrocities and for aid in their struggle against the regime in the north.
"It's a beautiful letter," Prichard says. "I've been involved with mission efforts my whole life, and I've never seen anything like this, where former enemies are saying, 'Please forgive us and stand with us, that we will all have peace.'
"I decided then that I'd devote the rest of my life to this. It's too important."
Prichard organized two more relief trips the next year, one of which delivered 54 pallets of clothing and 25,000 pounds of powdered milk to Darfur refugee camps.
But his church did not see the genocide in Darfur or the reconciliation efforts in Sudan as its calling. So Prichard left the church's employ and formed Sudan Sunrise in Lenexa, Kan. It moved to the Washington, D.C., area last fall.
"Tom is right there on the front lines, helping people who honestly need it and being the conscience for the rest of us," says John Zogby, founder and former president of the polling firm Zogby International and chairman of the Sudan Sunrise board of directors. "What motivates him is simply doing the Gospel: 'Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.' "
Sudan Sunrise has been involved in a variety of projects related to reconciliation, education, and community building.
The late Manute Bol, the Sudanese basketball player who played for eight years in the National Basketball Association (NBA), got involved with the organization in 2008. His dream was to build 41 nonsectarian schools in South Sudan (Mr. Bol admired George H.W. Bush, the 41st president).
Two schools should be completed within the next few months, including one in Turalei, Bol's home village. "My dream is for Manute Bol schools all around South Sudan and in the north as well," Prichard says. "Every one will be a seed of reconciliation and a symbol of peace."
Funding is an uphill battle. South Sudan is not on the radar screens of many philanthropic organizations and, for some, the concept of reconciliation is a bit abstract.
But Prichard is undeterred.
"Slowly, we're gaining traction," he says, noting that Sudan Sunrise has gotten help from the NBA and is attracting the attention of more grant-giving organizations. "The rest of the world can learn from the Sudanese as they work out their problems. It's a slow process, but for humanity's sake, it has to succeed.
"And we are here to support it."
• For more, see: www.sudansunrise.org
• For more stories about people making a difference, click here.