My passion for purpose began the day I met one of the Lost Boys of Sudan - Majier Mamer Deng, otherwise known as Nico. I met him nearly ten years ago through Cuyahoga Valley Church as he was sharing his heartbreaking yet inspiring story of surviving the Second Sudanese Civil War that broke out in the 1980s.
During the war, the Sudanese government turned against Sudanese villagers, displacing thousands of boys and girls. At the time, Nico was just nine years old and was forced to walk hundreds of miles in the scorching heat facing dehydration, starvation, wild animals, and an armed militia.
Thousands of young boys lost their lives on what felt like never-ending walks to different refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia. When the children finally made it to the camps, they stayed there for years living off small rations. Nico desired to become educated and stop civil wars from happening in his country. He was chosen by the United Nations Refugee Agency to be resettled in America during the early 2000s to gain a higher education. He achieved his goal and touched thousands of people with his unforgettable story along the way.
After meeting Nico, he quickly became a member of my family as we did anything we could to share his story and change the lives of others. My family fundraised for Nico to see his mother in Sudan after 21 years of being separated. We helped speak to schools across Northeast Ohio to share his story. We even took him on his first-ever vacation at the age of 30. He changed my perspective on life and inspired me to always share motivational stories that had the potential to change people’s lives forever. I didn’t even know it at the time, but I was falling in love with public relations and storytelling at a young age thanks to the time I spent with Nico.
From my experience with the Lost Boys of Sudan, I knew I wanted to combine my passions of storytelling and philanthropy into a career. I spent an incredible four years studying strategic communication, marketing and social media at Ohio University. Now, I am actually living my dream of working to make a difference. Thanks to my internship at Prosper for Purpose I’m helping some amazing organizations, including the Cuyahoga County Board of Health and 1% for the Planet.
My story has come full circle and I am beyond excited to see what is in store for me at Prosper this summer!