Thursday, June 14, 2012

My Friend Peter

Graduate Peter Nhiany with friend Bol
Peter Nhiany was born in 1980 in a small village called Tong in Southern Sudan. He is Dinka by tribe from the upper Nile region of Jongley.  Peter fled his homeland when only nine years old, leaving parents, brothers and sisters in their province that was devastated by war and genocide.

Peter’s town was repeatedly attacked by insurgents over a period of years. Many, including children, were shot to death or captured. These prolonged attacks on the Dinka people resulted in parents and children fleeing for their lives, often dispersing separately.  Fleeing in desperation and fear, Peter joined with other children to escape the unceasing attacks on Sudanese Christians.

Many of the children made their way to Ethiopia and some to other neighboring countries such as Uganda and Kenya in East Africa where they gathered in refugee camps. Life in these camps was not easy due to food scarcity and endemic disease. Many children perished in these camps in spite of the best efforts of humanitarian relief workers. Nine year old Peter would live in these refugee camps apart from family for the next 12 years. His mother, sister and two cousins in Sudan were killed during this period when their village was bombed from the air.

In August 2001, through the now-famous Lost Boys rescue and resettlement program, Peter was one of the fortunate chosen to come to safety in the United States eventually settling in Manchester, NH. Peter has worked as residential counselor at Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center helping people with development disabilities and as a Residential Instructor with Easter Seals.

In 2006 Peter co-founded Life for Sudan, a charitable non-profit designed to assist both Sudanese refugees in New England, and to help with the rebuilding of South Sudan. Peter serves as the organization’s Vice President and has two passions in life: education as the pathway to achievement and the helping of others.  After many years of part-time study while holding a full-time job, Peter received his BS in Business Management on June 10th from Granite State College.

Peter’s graduation photo was posted on Face Book and two of his comments in response to well-wishers are reflective of his character and determination:

“Thanks to you friends, co-workers and relatives for your comments. I really appreciate you all for taking the time to acknowledge my achievement. It is my role to show every young boy or girl in my family that you can do anything you put your mind to. I did this to my 16 nieces, nephews and 4 step siblings. Sky is my limit until they get to where I want them to be. Again, thank you all for your sweet comments.”

“Brother Manyang Gak, I had to do what I had to do to get to where I'm today. It is our commitment we young men and women of South Sudan to invest in education. You made big few years ago too and I'm proud of you.”

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