When he visits the families World Concern serves in Southern Sudan, Harun Ringera shares hope through words of encouragement and practical help. But he also shares hope through the example of his own life – one of how education and having someone believe in you can change everything.
The youngest of seven siblings who grew up in Eastern Kenya, Harun is the son of illiterate peasant farmers. None of his brothers and sisters were educated beyond primary school, but his father saw Harun’s passion for school and worked hard to pay his tuition for high school.
When he ran out of money while attending university in Nairobi, his father sold a piece of land to help him finish college. Now married and the father of two young children, Harun is working on his thesis to earn his master’s degree in October of this year.
His education, experience and skills are impacting others far beyond his own family. As program manager for World Concern Sudan, Harun spends his days overseeing vocational training programs, and working with families who are receiving food and agricultural training. Although he lives in a staff compound for 10 weeks at a time, and only travels back to Kenya to see his family for two weeks in between, he loves his job.
“I felt called to go to Sudan,” he said of his decision in 2006. At that time, Sudan was very unstable. There was no central government and no infrastructure. Schools had been destroyed and people had no way to earn income. He worked with traumatized child soldiers and homeless refugees.
It was far from glamorous work, but Harun persevered, and now oversees thriving microfinance programs, including savings groups and village banks. People are saving and borrowing money, starting businesses and planting crops. Others are rebuilding schools and earning food for their work. Women are learning to read and write, and they’re obtaining business skills. Life is improving.
“It called for a lot of patience, sacrifice and prayers,” he said of the progress in Sudan. He also believes it has to do with how people are treated. “If you want to succeed in Southern Sudan and motivate people, learn to appreciate them. These people have never been appreciated, because they have been under oppression for a very long time. Give them an opportunity to work and tell them, you can make it. Give them hope.”
Harun’s dedication to his work earned him recognition as CRISTA Ministries’ Employee of the Year (World Concern is one of CRISTA’s seven ministries). He’s currently enjoying his first trip to the U.S. – and his first time outside of Africa – to be honored for his service at World Concern’s headquarters.