I am Atlas Corps youth fellow from South Sudan, class fifteen placed at the National Endowment for Democracy. I was born in the countryside to illiterate parents who did not keep any document of my birthday. That explains one reason I don’t organize a birthday party for myself ever. But which date of birth is in my passport? Good question! The first day my parents took me to school, it was probably one of the days in their lives that they regretted being ignorant so greatly. The Head teacher was curious to know my date of birth as they presented me to be enrolled but they could not guess any. What happened then? A friend of mind whom I still refer to as my “twin-brother” was asked of his date of birth and inevitably got copied and pasted to me as we look age mates and I was very confortable with it that time. At one time, my dad (R.I.P) joined military service for the liberation struggle of my country. Five years later when he came back home to lead his former civilian life style, he was already exposed to the world.
As time went by then, it was still haunting in me why I use someone’s date of birth. One day I boldly approached my dad to explain to me the circumstances in which I was born. I asked him what event was there in our country when I was born; he started narrating some events that happened in my village including the agricultural season of the then year. By that narrative from him, I was able to know that the artificial date I am now using is actually more than my natural date of birth by two years. However I could not change it as it had already gone viral that time in all my official documents.
Despite all the illiteracy, my parents are the most wonderful parents imaginably. When we were growing up, my other brothers and I were uninterruptedly nurtured with love and provided with most everything needed, which made for a happy childhood. During my teenage years, I recall vacations that my mother and father took us in where many close family relative live. Now at thirty-two or “thirty-four”, I am on my own and very thankful to them for all the love and support growing up which has made me into the type of person I am today. Recently, I have come to learn through my experiences with my current fellowship with Atlas Corps, that I can change the world. My experience in school and with my schoolmates has also made me aware of my future responsibilities in the world. I can no longer make silly mistakes of not knowing the birthday of my lovely child Mirye Alimure. Responsibility as a parent is a huge part of changing the world and has become a key instrument in the contemporary conduct of business.
A piece of advice that I often received from my lovely mother is, “as long as you do your best, you will never make the mistake we did to you to your child”. This refers to accomplishment in everything from school to livelihoods. Today, this helps to take anxieties off me especially when I am dealing with taught issues because I don’t have to live up to certain standards and try to undertake goals that are unreachable.