Founding the CMSF
The Cuey Machar Secondary school Foundation (CMSF) has been founded in 2005 by former child soldier Kon Kelei. Its mission is to enable secondary schooling for the youth, both boys and girls, in South Sudan. The decision to build a secondary school was made after several conversations with the local population of Cuey Machar, since there is no secondary school in the area. The nearest one is in Bor, eleven kilometers from the village. This is too far to walk for most children. Besides that, mostly girls are not allowed to walk many kilometers to school by Dinka families. By building a school in the village itself, all children in Cuey Machar have the possibility to go to school. Another thing Kon Kelei noticed when exploring the idea to start a foundation is that existing NGO’s only focus on primary schools, which limited the future possibilities of these children. Kon knows, unlike any other, how important it is to have the possibility to go to school and to educate yourself. This possibility is even more important in a post-conflict area, like Sudan, since education is the key to rebuild the country and to give the population a better future. Primary schooling is insufficient to give them a good future. That is why CMSF focuses on a secondary school.
By focusing only on secondary schooling, Kon wants to send out a message to everyone involved in development aid. He thinks that education is the most important device there is against long-term poverty and lack of knowledge. Education is necessary to prevent dictatorships to arise and it gives a voice back to the civilians. That is why CMSF wants the focus of NGO’s to turn towards secondary education. Primary education is simply not enough to combat poverty.
Besides putting a focus on secondary education, CMSF also tries to create awareness among the Dutch youth concerning the necessity of development aid. That is why CMSF organizes activities through which students and secondary school students learn about the situation in Third World countries and the need to help them through development aid. CMSF tries to aim these activities at secondary schools in The Netherlands, since they are the future of The Netherlands. Besides, CMSF has noticed over the years that these students are very enthusiastic about our project, since they are the same age as the beneficiaries in Sudan and they can relate to the problems of the Sudanese youth and the importance of education. Various schools in The Netherlands, such as Maasland College Oss, Jan van Brabant College Helmond and Damstede College Amsterdam, have ‘adopted’ the CMSF project and by organizing activities,washing cars and selling cake and candy, they have collected money for Sudan. To motivate these students and to explain the situation in Sudan, Kon Kelei has given impressive presentations at these schools about his life as a child soldier, of his refuge to The Netherlands and about his dreams for Sudan. Of course, he also explained the mission of CMSF and why this mission is so important.
CMSF also tries to raise awareness for the need of secondary schooling among students. Kon has given many interviews to various university magazines and has participated in debates at universities and in cities throughout The Netherlands. CMSF has also organized several charity events in Nijmegen, the hometown of the Foundation. It has sold hot dogs at the Radboud University and in 2009 CMSF organized a debate in Nijmegen about the importance of secondary schooling in the Third World. Through these activities in Nijmegen, CMSF is becoming well known there. In Amsterdam, a local student association organized a benefit party for CMSF. That night CMSF ambassador and actor Waldemar Torenstra and founder Kon Kelei pointed out the problems in Sudan and the contribution CMSF is trying to make in rebuilding the country.
n 2009 CMSF has participated in a running event called the Dam tot Dam loop. During this event, participants must run ten English miles (sixteen kilometers) from Amsterdam to Zaandam. A total of 22 people, including students, friends and well known Dutch actors, comedians and presenters, ran this distance to collect money for CMSF. Companies could support these teams and were mentioned on the shirts of the runners in return for money. In total, more than 7.000 euro (about 9600 US dollars) was collected, which was a great result for CMSF. In 2010 CMSF is planning to participate in this event again with 30 people.
With the support of companies, lawyers, schools, other foundations and private donations, CMSF has, so far, collected over 100.000 euro (almost 140.000 US dollars) for the construction of the school. With this money, CMSF has started building the school in 2008. It seems that Kon’s dream is becoming reality.