Elimisha Kakuma


Headshot of Mary Maker.

Mary Maker (she/her/hers)

Mary is a former South Sudanese refugee who has been supporting UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, since 2018. After fleeing her war-torn country as a child, she found security and hope in attending school in Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. She has since become a teacher of young refugees in her community, and sees education as an essential tool for rebuilding lives and empowering a generation of girls who are too often denied entrance into the classroom. Mary is currently pursuing Theater as part of a scholarship program at St. Olaf College in the United States.

In 2018, Mary gave an impassioned speech at TEDxKakumaCamp entitled "Why I fight for the education of refugee girls (like me)". In collaboration with UNHCR she has gone on to advocate on behalf of refugees on multiple global platforms including Sky News and ABC News. Mary has spoken at international events including Global GoalsCast and the Girl Up Summit and supported the launch of UNHCR's annual Education Report. She has featured in social media films and briefings outlining the importance of education, and highlighting, through her own personal story, the resilience, talents and ambitions of the forcibly displaced in playing an active role, in not only the response to the global refugee crisis, but also to the global coronavirus pandemic.

Headshot of Diing Manyang.

Diing Manyang (she/her/hers)

Diing is South Sudanese and a former Refugee. She studies Systems Engineering with a concentration in Data Analytics and a minor in Economics at George Washington University. Diing is passionate about girls’ education and is always on the lookout for opportunities to increase girls’ education. Diing is an alumnus of the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U), an organization formed by President Bill Clinton. She is a CGI U COVID-19 Student Action Fund awardee. She used her funding to organize We Are The Kakuma in partnership with Dreams Studio and Mary Maker to provide sanitizers, masks, food etc for refugees in Kakuma. She is the co-founder of a girl mentorship program, Me4Her: Breaking Patriarchal Barriers, with a grant she received from the CGI U. Diing was also a teacher at Kakuma Refugee Secondary School, where her passion to see more South Sudanese refugees receive educational opportunities compelled her to become a teacher after completing high school. As a student on her college campus, Diing has been part of the Enough Project's Student Upstander program, an organization that advocates for better policies to end genocide and mass atrocities against humanity in conflict zones such as South Sudan.

Headshot of Joseph Dudi Miabok (Dudi).

Joseph Dudi Miabok (Dudi) (he/him/his)

Dudi is a South Sudanese refugee who grew up in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya. He is a rising senior at Harvard University studying History and Science with a focus on Information, Technology and Society and also minors in Computer Science. He is passionate about creating access to quality education, one of the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs), to the less fortunate, especially refugees and internally displaced persons through the application of modern technology. He also went to and taught in primary and secondary schools in Kakuma. Therefore as a former teacher and student, he knows firsthand what it means to be a refugee with dreams and not have the opportunity to pursue them. This summer, he will be running a project that focuses on teaching 9th and 10th graders computer programming as well as teaching them how to apply to universities abroad after graduating from high school. By being a part of Elimisha Kakuma, Dudi hopes to realize his dreams of creating greater access to higher education for refugees.

Headshot of Deirdre Hand.

Deirdre Hand (she/her/hers)

Deirdre is an educator who has her Master's in Education, Curriculum, and Instruction with a concentration in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) from Virginia Tech. Her passion is promoting educational access to all, especially immigrants and refugees. She has taught in seven countries across five continents, with highlights including serving as an English Language Fellow through the U.S. State Department in Indonesia, interning for Jesuit Refugee Service in Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya, a teaching and research instructor at Virginia Tech, serving as Lead Teacher of a Scholarship Program in Rwanda, and working as the English Department Coordinator of a non-profit school in Guatemala. She has developed and taught curriculum to young adults and adults and strongly believes in the power of education to transform lives.


Headshot of Olunga Theophilus.

Olunga Theophilus

Headshot of Joseph Chol Machop.

Joseph Chol Machop


Headshot of Anika Brennan.

Anika Brennan

Macalester College

Headshot of Julia Greenman.

Julia Greenman

Virginia Tech

Headshot of Charlie McManus.

Charlie McManus

Macalester College

Headshot of Mackenzie Williams.

Mackenzie Williams

Virginia Tech