Theil T. Theil conceived the vision of Undying Hope in 1986, during Sudan civil war. Theil was 11 years old when a military convoy was dispatched to his hometown.
When the convoy arrived, a landmine exploded one of the military vehicles, provoking outrage from the commander. He was furious and determined to seek revenge.
Consequently, the commander ordered his troops to burn down civilian houses, shoot to kill, and plunder whatever they lay their hands on.
The sky turned red from the smoke. The sun disappeared. Many people maneuver crossfires while running as fast as their feet can allow. Most neighbors were crying for the loss of their loved ones. Scores of families became homeless, and countless youths escaped Aweil that night. It was one of the most heinous and atrocious attacks against innocent civilians and Theil witnessed it firsthand at such an early age.
Theil's father was the Acting Commissioner, but he was ostensibly helpless and overpowered. Feeling of sorrow, helplessness, and anger was written all over his face. Worse still, schools in Aweil closed permanently after this tragic day. The commander turned several schools into military bivouacs.
Theil carried the Undying Hope vision within him for over three decades. One thing that Theil never lost along the spectrum of the Undying Hope journey is hope. Hence, Undying Hope! Thankfully, Undying Hope vision was finally born in 2019 after 33 years of pregnancy and was named Undying Hope International, Inc. (UHI).
UHI is a vision of love, hope, peace, and resilience.
It was formed to promote quality education in South Sudan, and beyond. Schools in this region are few and illiteracy rates are among the highest in South Sudan. Additionally, many children over fifteen do not continue their schooling because of economic hardships. Theil Theil, founder of UHI and native South Sudanese, understands that it does not have to be this way. Although his country has faced decades of war and many generations of extreme poverty, Theil knows that efforts must be made, that help is what is needed, and that nothing is impossible. It is time to hope for a better future and time to put that hope into action. This action has been made manifest in UHI.
UHI’s mission is to educational to impact the people of South Sudan, and beyond, in four spheres of activity: basic education, public health, and healthcare services, leadership development, and spiritual formation in the way of Jesus. The initial stage is to offer a high school education in the city of Wau (Guiding Star Leadership Academy) and the Seeds of Hope Elementary School (SHES) in Theil’s hometown, Aweil. SHES will provide education opportunities to orphans, among others. UHI plans to implement the same South Sudanese curriculum as other high schools where the students will be educated in math, science, the liberal arts, and other core disciplines. But UHI’s vision compels them to teach and train in leadership, health, financial literacy, and spiritual formation. The hope is to invest in the current leaders and raise up future leaders who excel in good character and wise vision.
Nine directors make up UHI’s fiduciary board: Theil Theil, Dr. Charles Balch, Curtis Lee, Paula Reiger, Leigh Marcus, Brian Hopper, Jack Wisdom, Dr. Tulsi Maharjan, and Don Wiley. Theil hand-picked some of the board members for their areas of expertise and others through trusted friends. Theil’s strength is his heart for South Sudan and proven track record, his vast education in leadership and languages, exhibits strong work ethic and work experience, his patience and desire to build with excellence, and his ability to connect with other leaders in South Sudan and beyond.
This core group of directors, along with Advisory Board members and several other key supporters, are dedicated to laying the groundwork to provide tools and resources to current leaders and raise up the future leaders of South Sudan.
Why Undying Hope?
This Undying Hope, my ocean of desire for South Sudan, developed in my heart by way of three rivers: my culture, my circumstances, and my spiritual growth. I was raised during Sudan’s civil war and lived through insurmountable odds. However, I have never lost hope. Therefore, I thought it fit to include with this strategic plan the reasons why Undying Hope matters and what it means to me personally.
(1) My Culture
In my dialect, Dinka, Theil means "sleeping on an empty stomach." Literally, my name means going to bed hungry. In South Sudan, it's not uncommon for kids to go to bed hungry. Like many South Sudanese, I have slept hungry countless times. The good news is that, in such desperate situations, there is always hope that there will be something to eat tomorrow. An undying hope. It's my utmost hope that, UHI would play a role in eradicating hunger through education in South Sudan and beyond so that no one will “Theil” again.
(2) My Circumstances
South Sudan lacks basic services and infrastructure. Due to many decades of civil war, the people of South Sudan are grappling with economic hardship, the absence of good schools, poor health care facilities, and a lack of paved roads. In retrospect, when I was a child during the civil war, my classroom was under a tree, students sat on the stones and used only one or two UNICEF notebooks for all subjects. Such a dire situation ignited a passion in me, to be part of building a better South Sudan, where everyone has an opportunity to go to school, dream big, and achieve his or her full potential. Herein lies my desire to play a role in enhancing the educational system in my native land.
My hope for a better future has never died. Since I was a little boy, growing up amidst Sudan’s civil war, I always believed that good days lie ahead for South Sudan- that grace awaited us. It is certainly an undying hope. For such hope to come to fruition, generational seeds need to be planted through quality education and watered with leadership development. The hope is that these seeds will germinate and produce good fruit down the road. It's an undying hope for a better and transformed South Sudan, and beyond.
(3) My Spiritual Growth
As a follower of Jesus Christ, my utmost hope is eternal life. Hope does not die so long as we are alive. I pray consistently that, when I depart this planet earth, I will hear God say to me, “well done, good and faithful servant.” It is noteworthy that ever since I started the Residency training program through my home church, Bay Area Community Church (BACC), I have grown spiritually, interpersonally, and professionally. BACC-Residency has shed light on my spiritual life through constant examination of the scriptures, daily meditation on God's Word, and practical application of God's instructions and commandments. I am profoundly grateful and thankful for such unique training on character, knowledge, and skill.
You can Help
Community members in Aweil and Wau generously donated construction and farming lands to Undying Hope as their active way of supporting Undying Hope’s vision and mission. We need your support as we build the future of South Sudan.
Book Theil for a public speaking engagement
Listen to Theil Theil share his incredible story of overcoming the challenges of growing up in a civil war as well as the vision for Undying Hope. He can bring this inspirational message to schools, organizations, churches, groups, etc.