Our Foundation Story
Listening for God, Jennifer Ernst began her mission work after some young Sudanese refugees (Lost Boys of Sudan) were relocated into the Richmond, VA area. She not only worked in VA, but also in Kenya and Uganda, countries which provided the Sudanese people with places of refuge. During her time in Kenya and Uganda, Jennifer listened to the needs of the southern Sudanese people. They repeatedly told her that education was needed in their country. Listening to the southern Sudanese people, Jennifer and a small group of friends and family in Richmond, VA founded Hope for Humanity, Inc. in December 2004. Listening is our foundation.
During a mission trip Jennifer Ernst builds friendships with southern Sudanese children.
From our foundation, Hope for Humanity, Inc., a 501(c)3 organization was and still is dedicated to growing educational opportunities for the future leaders of southern Sudan (now South Sudan). We have accomplished this work through scholarships and by building a secondary school, Hope and Resurrection Secondary School in Atiaba, South Sudan.
In 2005, when funds began being raised to construct Hope and Resurrection Secondary School, Jennifer and her husband Darryl envisioned the school being handed over to either the Episcopal Church of Southern Sudan or the newly formed South Sudanese Ministry of Education. It was soon evident that neither could administer nor support the school. They next turned to the U.S. Episcopal Church to see if there were any missionaries interested in going to southern Sudan to open the school.
At that time, Jim and Mary Higbee had began listening to where they might serve . They had just completed their missionary training through the Episcopal Church and were hoping that there would be a mission for them in the area of education. In 2008, the Ernsts and Higbees became founding partners in realizing the dream of a secondary school in the rural village of Atiaba.
Jim and Mary Higbee opened Hope and Resurrection Secondary School in 2008 with a freshman class called Senior 1. There were 60 students enrolled, and many were older since their education had been interrupted by civil war. Only three girls were in the first class. The staff was composed of our South Sudanese Headmaster, Anthony; a teacher from Uganda, Cleous; Jim and Mary Higbee, missionaries; and two part-time teachers from the area.
Above: First Class of Hope and Resurrection Secondary School in 2008. Mary Higbee, Founding Teacher; Principal Anthony Wal with two teachers.
Below: Mary Higbee, Founding Teacher, in Atiaba Community. Jim Higbee, Founding Teacher, helping children in Atiaba with their radio.
Both, Hope for Humanity Inc. and Hope and Resurrection Secondary School, have grown tremendously from its first years. The school now serves over 325 students. Our dormitory accommodates 95 girls to live safely on campus. There are over 200 nationally recognized high school graduates from HRSS school.
Hope for Humanity, Inc. is now led by five people, comprised of our Executive Director, Suzanne M. Hicks, M.Div., Board President, James E. Wright, and Board Directors and Advisors, Mary Higbee, Kathy Theado, Catherine Perrin, and Porsche Pierson. Day-to-day operations are carried out at the school through a collaborative effort among our Executive Director, Board members in the United States, the Diocese of Rumbek in South Sudan, our South Sudanese professional Administrator, Awut Mayom Agok and Principal, Anthony Wal, the local South Sudan community who supports the school with great pride, and an active PTA.
The foundation of Hope for Humanity, Inc. was built on listening, friendships, answering God’s call, and fulfilling a great need. We continue to grow by building friendships as we seek to listen and obey God’s calling for South Sudan.
We thank you for your contribution, and it will allow us to continue our mission to educate South Sudan's youth for years to come.
Listen to a founding donor and advocate, The Rev. Paul Johnson