Meet Nhial Deng: Changing Lives, One Refugee at a Time | Shortlisted for $100K Award

Nhial Deng has been recognized as one of the Top 50 Shortlist finalists for the prestigious Global Student Prize, an award worth $100,000 USD presented to a student who has positively impacted their community. Currently studying at Huron University College in London, Deng is the sole Canadian-based student selected from over 3,800 applicants worldwide.

In a world where young individuals often lead the way for change, Nhial Deng’s story shines brightly. His journey began with a dream of becoming a journalist to give a voice to his war-torn homeland, South Sudan. However, fate had bigger plans for him. At the tender age of 11, Deng’s family sought refuge in the Kakuma Kenyan refugee camp during the war in Ethiopia-South Sudan. It was there that his life’s purpose took shape.

At 17, Deng initiated the Refugee Youth Peace Ambassadors program, gathering a few friends under an acacia tree in Kakuma. This transformative initiative provided workshops, sports activities, and mentoring sessions to over 10,000 young refugees, offering them a safe space to connect, heal, and support one another.

Deng’s impact journey continued in 2021 when he founded “SheLeads Kakuma,” a program promoting gender equality among young refugee girls and women in various camps. The initiative connects them with female mentors worldwide, empowering them to become leaders and advocates in their communities.

Though not without challenges, Deng finds motivation in witnessing the positive changes in the lives of young people he helps, despite not being able to assist everyone in need. If awarded the $100,000 Global Student Prize, Deng plans to establish the Kakuma Book Drive, a library and community center in the Kakuma refugee camp, where he once sought refuge. This project aims to provide a space for learning, growth, and hope for thousands of young minds.

The Global Student Prize, co-founded by the Varkey Foundation and, acknowledges the vital role of education in shaping a better world. Education empowers individuals like Nhial Deng to create innovative solutions for global challenges and inspire positive change.


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