What Banaa Has Taught Me

Banaa Scholars and Staff at the US Capitol Building

Banaa Scholars and Staff at the US Capitol Building

When I joined Banaa about a year ago, I had no idea that it would be one of the most inspiring, overwhelming, and wonderful things I have done yet.  I thought I knew about the conflict and situation in Sudan and South Sudan.  I didn’t at all, but I knew that I wanted to do more than I was.  The simple story is that Banaa is an entirely student-run organization that works to connect Sudanese scholars, who have faced so many challenges and atrocities, with scholarships in the United States so they can be equipped with knowledge, skills, and connections to change the situation in their home countries.  I cannot explain how much I have learned and grown because I chose to get involved with Banaa and the positive impact it has had on my life.

The Banaa scholars are strong and inspiring people who have become my friends.  Hearing even pieces of their stories this summer was life changing.  I am so happy that they are here brightening up and contributing to their college campuses, the lives of their friends, and various organizations around the country.  Knowing them has made me believe even more in Banaa’s mission of educating extraordinary people so they can be empowered to change their own country.  The Banaa program is small and personal.  We are a small organization and that means that we can only choose a few scholars to admit every year.  Every one of them is intelligent, talented, and has shown a dedication to promoting peace.  Each scholar makes a huge commitment to leaving behind his or her family and everything he or she knows to learn in the United States and dedicates his or her future to improving his or her country.  Banaa scholars more than deserve every opportunity we can give them.

My seven fellow Banaa staff and I have been through so much together fighting for our organization.  We have struggled to find a place for Banaa at GW, dealt with disappointments, and shared many triumphs.  Only students ourselves, we are trying and learning to make a difference in the world amongst a lot of red tape, cynicism, and homework of our own.  We are making budgets, fighting for every dollar of funding, interviewing candidates, attending hundreds and hundreds of meetings, and living and breathing this work.  I have never seen a group of people so determined to make a difference and so willing to give it everything they have.  Banaa has taught me about the importance of education, hard work, and never giving up.

At this point we are still working hard.  Our goal is to bring one of several extraordinary candidates to matriculate at GW in the fall of 2013.  We have secured a generous scholarship offer from the university and have put candidates through the first round of admissions.  In order to accept a scholar, however, we still need to raise about $4,000 by March 15.  This is where you can come in.  If you can, please donate.  Every dollar counts towards our goal and anything you can give we would appreciate so much.  If you have any airline miles to give, please donate those and we could use them to fly the scholar to DC from Sudan. If you think that Banaa is worth sharing then post about us on Facebook, Tweet about us, or just tell somebody who might be interested in giving someone an opportunity for an education.

Thank you for reading this and taking action.  You have no idea how important it is to me, a group of GW students, one amazing future GW student, and maybe someday an entire nation.


-Haley Aubuchon

Banaa Staff

George Washington University 2014

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