The Women’s Educational Empowerment Project for Southern Sudan began in February of 2007 in Murray, Ky. Gabriel Akech Kwai gathered a small group of students from Murray State University and shared his vision to better the tragic state of Sudan, his home country. His plan involves a short term goal to sponsor young women, sending them to surrounding countries for education. Eventually, he wishes to build permanent schools for them in Southern Sudan.

Kwai believes this will bridge the educational gap between the northern and southern regions of the country. According to unfpa.org, the Web site for the United Nations Population Fund, Northern Sudan possesses 71 percent and 52 percent male and female literacy rates respectively, while Southern Sudan lags significantly behind. Their literacy rate among men stands at 37 percent and 12 percent among women. However, W.E.E.P. for Southern Sudan believes education given to Southern Sudanese girls will filter throughout the country. Narrowing this educational gap could raise economic productivity, lower infant and maternal mortality, improve nutritional status and health, reduce poverty and reduce HIV/AIDS outbreaks.

Kwai states that if you educate a young woman, you educate her whole family.

In a short period of time, W.E.E.P. for Southern Sudan has grown into a non-profit organization that hopes to pair American donors with Sudanese women in need, working together to raise a country from destitution. In just six years, W.E.E.P. has helped eleven girls graduate from high school, and provided the foundation for two girls to continue on to university in Canada.