The Lost Boy who found his way

“In the little village of Duk Padiet in Southern Sudan, a boy named Jacob Akech Deng is awakened in the night.  The year is 1987, and soldiers from the north have invaded his village. The war has arrived and Jacob’s life will never be the same…With thousands of others, Jacob fled for his life and spent months walking through deserts and crossing crocodile-infested rivers, only to spend years living in refugee camps.  Throughout it all, Jacob is guided by the memory of his mother, and her belief in education as the key to escaping the cycle of violence”
- A Hare in the Elephant’s Trunk (Red Deer Press; 2010)
Jacob meets EU Charge d’Affaires Philippe Coessens.
Anne Haaksman de Koster of NGO Free Voice meets Jacob.
Jacob Deng with new friends at the Canadian Embassy.

A Hare in the Elephants Trunk: A Canadian Classic

A Hare in the Elephant’s Trunk, written by Nova Scotia author Jan Coates profiles the real-life struggle, endurance and hopes of Jacob Deng. Jacob is one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, displaced by civil war at the early age of seven he embarks on a seemingly endless journey that tests his courage and determination. The exceptional account of Jacob’s journey has won a handful of literary awards, and was nominated as a finalist for Canada’s 2011 Governor General’s Literary Award. Highlighting the work done by a bright young member of the Canadian Sudanese diaspora, the ‘hero’ of  The Hare in the Elephant’s Trunk inspires Canadians and South Sudanese alike.

The Embassy of Canada to South Sudan hosted an evening reception in honor of Jacob, the hero of A Hare in the Elephant’s Trunk. The reception brought together colleagues from the diplomatic and development communities, showcasing Jacob’s story of survival, and his ongoing work with his NGO, Wadeng – Wings of Hope. The evening was an opportunity to introduce Jacob to key contacts in the diplomatic, developmental and humanitarian fields.

Wadeng – Wings of Hope

Jacob immigrated to Halifax, Canada from a refugee camp in Kenya. While in Canada, he studied for his degree, started a family and founded an NGO to further his late mother’s faith in the power of education.

Jacob’s NGO, Wadeng – Wings of Hope provides vocational training to Sudanese refugees, dedicates resources directly to projects in South Sudan, and is committed to using the power of education to ensure a peaceful future for Sudanese youth. 

“We don’t choose where were are born, or the life we are born into, but we can choose how to deal with the life given to us”
-Jacob Akech Deng

Wadeng has already trained dozens of young South Sudanese in new vocational skills and through the generous donations of Canadians, delivered dozens of goats to struggling families in Duk, the county Jacob originally escaped from.

Now Jacob has returned to South Sudan to contribute directly to Sudanese reconstruction. Even though South Sudan declared its independence several years ago, his home county of Duk once again finds itself on a frontline: several of the county’s districts are controlled by the rebels fighting the ongoing South Sudanese civil war.

Canadian Inspired Success in South Sudan

In recognition to his dedication to their well-being, the people of Duk successfully petitioned the South Sudanese government to name Jacob the County Commissioner. In this role, which Jacob has held since 2014, he advocates on behalf of the whole county to the government in Juba. Whenever he’s in Juba, Jacob stops by the Canadian Embassy to discuss his responsibilities as Commissioner, and continued opportunities for Canadian support.

As one of the youngest Commissioners, in one of its most troubled regions in the country, Jacob recognises that he faces enormous challenges. Despite these challenges, he has impressed all around him with his quiet courage and endless determination.  Jacob told the group gathered at the Embassy how proud he is to bring back to his homeland some of the values he learned in Canada as a young man, and he plans to make Duk County a model for national reconciliation.