Starting in 1999, as a result of an on-going civil war in Sudan, many southern Sudanese began arriving in the United States. At that time, Jennifer Ernst and her husband Darryl began helping a small community of Sudanese through their local Richmond, Virginia church. During these early days when many of the “Lost Boys” arrived in Richmond, Jennifer and Darryl often heard cries for education. Then, in 2002, Jennifer participated in a diocese-sponsored mission trip to Kenya and Uganda that was focused on projects relating to the southern Sudanese people. Among the areas visited was Kakuma Refugee Camp in northern Kenya. The 10-square-mile camp was home to approximately 52,000 southern Sudanese refugees. Again, there was a strong cry among the refugees for education.
Jennifer returned from that mission trip with numerous letters from young Sudanese requesting scholarships to Kenyan and Ugandan secondary schools. Since Sudanese are not allowed to work in these countries and all students, even citizens, are required to pay for secondary education, scholarships are necessary to cover the school fees. After sharing her experience with Darryl, a decision was made to work with their church to raise funds to help the Sudanese living in Richmond.
On their own they began soliciting friends and family to become private sponsors for Sudanese who wanted to attend secondary school. Among them was a brother and three relatives of Richmond “Lost Boy,” Maker Marial. While in Kitale, Kenya, Jennifer had met with them and they had expressed their intense desire to become educated men so they could return and help their people. They asked on behalf of themselves and other relatives that Jennifer consider sponsoring them. Jennifer and Darryl were able to sponsor four of them and they found sponsors for eight others.
Within South Sudan itself there was, and still is, a great need for educational resources and facilities. Only 20% of children attend school because there are so few schools available. As a result, the literacy rate of 20% is among the lowest in the world. The typical “school” in South Sudan is held under a large tree year-round. When it rains, school is canceled. There are very few textbooks or other supplies and teachers are unpaid volunteers, often with no training.
Hope for Humanity, Inc. was founded by Jennifer, Darryl, and Maker in December 2004 as an organization dedicated to growing educational opportunities for the future leaders of Sudan. They are committed to the idea that education is the best way to help the southern Sudanese to grow and become self-supporting.
Jennifer Ernst has announced her retirement from Hope for Humanity effective December 31, 2015. The board of directors has hired a new Executive Director, Ms. Suzanne Hicks, to carry on the important ministry of Hope and Resurrection Secondary School.
Hope for Humanity, Inc.
P.O. Box 29117
Richmond, VA 23242
© 2009-2014 Hope for Humanity, Inc., All rights reserved.