Our year in review



SSEF Year-end Newsletter


Save the Date!

Save the Date

March 14, 2015

Arlington Town Hall - 6:00 p.m.

Gala Fundraising Event

“Lost Boys and Girls of Sudan: Building Families and Futures in America”

Click here for details.

Greetings from Moses Ajou (pictured above with wife, Alec, and son, Ajou).

This is my third year as Assistant Director of SSEF and Director of our Saturday Bridges Program. There is nothing more rewarding and satisfying than watching our Saturday Program grow and flourish year by year. This year, things have been running especially smoothly. At this writing, we have successfully completed 20 program sessions. Attendance has been steadily on the rise and there is great enthusiasm all around.

In my view, the Saturday Bridges Program is succeeding beyond even our initial high hopes for it. I believe the innovations we’ve introduced and the environment we have been able to create has been of inestimable value to our students. Our program, I believe, could well serve as a model for educational efforts of other immigrant groups coming into the United States from similar backgrounds. The only thing keeping us back from further enriching the experience of our children and young mothers is the constraints on funding, which we continually work to alleviate.

We divide our program services by age groups of attendees. The updates and pictures in this newsletter will give you a brief idea of what’s happening.

0 to 4 year group

This is one of the groups where attendance has jumped. Most of these children have older siblings in the other groups. Our program has given these children, at an early age, an opportunity to be away briefly from their parents and siblings, good for both the children and their families. Even at such early ages, we see them developing the beginnings of independence and confidence. They interact with others, develop their motor skills, and engage in coloring and at least the start of lettering. It’s a wonderful day care/pre-school experience for kids who wouldn’t get the same exposure otherwise.



Akuot reads to child


5-6 year old group

Over the past three years, I have seen children in this age group mature behaviorally and in terms of independence, confidence, and learning. The level of excitement and eagerness to participate in activities such as dance and movement instruction, reading, arts, and playtime is wonderful to watch. It gives me great pleasure to see that these most boisterous and rambunctious children are maturing and changing before our eyes.

7-8 year old group

Once again, the higher up the age, the more apparent their progress toward maturity. In this group, we are seeing academic growth, appreciation of the program, personal academic growth, and a hunger for different kinds of activities. We have recently received a grant for material from the Museum of Science. The children learned bubble making (part of the STEM program), reading, writing, art, and social/gym time. Getting the kids involved in STEM education has been particularly rewarding for them.



Maker hands


9-11 year old group

Most of the children in this group were pioneers in the Saturday program, so we’ve been watching them for three years. We see that their concentration, level of attention for details, their participation in activities, and their academic growth generally have improved remarkably. When they started off, we had significant concerns about attitude issues with these students, but that isn’t the case any longer. On the contrary, some members of this group have been role models for the younger ones. They participate in reading, writing, homework help, and arts and STEM, again with support from the Museum of Science grant.

12 + year old group

Last year we were awarded a grant for “Teen Artistic Expression.” This is a sub-program offered to these teenagers in addition to regular programming such as reading and writing, homework help, and oral communication. We are very proud of the fact that two of the newly arrived teens from Kakuma refugee camp have excelled well in reading, writing, and communication.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum


Maker hands



The majority of our adult participants are in the English language program. Most are wives of the “Lost boys of Sudan” and came from villages in South Sudan or refugee camps where they have never had access to education. All can now spell their names and read to a certain degree. Five of the women were able to pass drivers’ permit test due to the help of our wonderful volunteers who selflessly committed themselves to teaching these women English every Saturday of the program as well as on their personal time outside program hours. Also, there are a few in this group in college or studying for their GEDs. Many are young professionals seeking to advance their careers who participated in our “Get a Better Job” workshop this year.

Volunteers and Staff

Our program support comes mostly from Salemwood school students, Lincoln-Sudbury high school students, retired teachers, Salemwood school counselors, and other professional long-term volunteers. Not only are these volunteers vital in engaging with South Sudanese parents and children, but they are integral parts of cultural interaction.

We typically have seven part time group leaders. Without this group of leaders, we would not be able to provide anywhere near the kind of academic and social support to South Sudanese participants in the program.

If you have knowledge to share in academic subjects and college academic courses, please contact us if you can spare some time to help out our more advanced community learners. Our students need occasional help in subjects such as Economics, Accounting, Science, and Statistics, to name a few.

Deng teaches


Bubble fun


Summer Camp

Last year, we were able to send 12 amazing 9-13 year olds to Camp Calumet. The children would love to go to these sleep away camps for two or more weeks, but our budget limitation constrained us to help only 12 out of 20 plus that were eligible to attend a one week camping program. It is something that should be continued, as it gives the children the opportunity to experience the outdoors, to make new friends, to craft things by hand, and to change their scenery, if only, if only for a short time.


We are so happy for Jihad Nyang, a longtime participant and aide in our Saturday Bridges Program, who was accepted into the Year Up program this year.

Her manager at Year Up says, "Jihad’s enthusiasm and persistence are easily seen in the Learning Community. She volunteers in class, participates in group activities, and is regularly one of the first students to arrive daily- a welcomed difference from a challenge that some students have. Jihad has built a core network amongst her peers that will serve her long beyond the remaining 8 months of the program. I am glad that Jihad has come to us through SBP and look forward to her continued success at Year Up and tireless advocacy of your organization as well."

Jihad at YearUp


Smiling child


You can make a difference!

Your support - at any level - will help us continue our vital and vibrant programs for our South Sudanese community in the greater Boston area.

  • $5,000 - Saturday Bridges Program facilities rental for one semester
  • $2,500 - bus service for one year
  • $1,000 - summer camp for two children
  • $500 - GED/ESL tutoring for one learner
  • $100 - STEM/art supplies for one student per year
  • $50 - Snacks for one participant per year

Our programs are made possible because of kind supporters like you.

Thank you!



To download a print version of our newsletter, click here.

Your tax-deductible contribution will be a gift of education and friendship to South Sudanese families in Massachusetts.

We need your help!