Book Valentino Achak Deng

Surviving Lost Boy of Sudan, Co-Founder of the VAD Foundation, & Author of “What is the What”

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Valentino Achak Deng Bio

Valentino was born in southern Sudan (now South Sudan), in the village of Marial Bai. He was seven or eight years old when he fled the civil-war stricken Sudan in the late 1980s during the second Sudanese civil war, when his village was destroyed by murahaleen—the same type of militia that currently terrorizes the Darfur region of Sudan.Deng spent nine years in Ethiopian and Kenyan refugee camps, where he worked for the UNHCR as a social advocate and reproductive health educator. He walked to Ethiopia with 30,000 children but was forced to flee again to a refugee camp in Kenya, one of only 10,000 children to survive the journey. In 2001, he resettled to Atlanta, GA, one of the last lost boys allowed out.Deng has toured the United States speaking about his life in South Sudan, his experience as a refugee, and his collaboration with author Dave Eggers on What Is the What, the novelized version of Deng’s life story. As a leader in the South Sudanese diaspora, Deng advocates for the universal right to education.In 2006, Deng and Eggers established the VAD Foundation to help rebuild South Sudanese communities by increasing educational access. In 2015, he was the Minister of Education for Northern Bahr el Ghazal and oversaw more than 800 state-run schools in addition. Now, in addition to running the VAD Foundation’s secondary school (Marial Bai Secondary School), Valentino is the Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility for Black Rhino (The Blackstone Group).He is a highly requested speaker at schools and colleges, churches, civic originations, and religious institutions, sharing a message of character, perseverance, faith, and hope. He was also featured on CNN’s Inside Africa.Contact a speaker booking agent to check availability on Valentino Achak Deng and other top speakers and celebrities.

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