Abraham Atem Acting Governor - Helicopter Travel

Meet Abraham Atem

Can you imagine losing everyone and everything you know? Abraham Atem experienced it. As a child, Sudan’s civil war forced Abraham to leave his parents and flee his home. While living with other minors in a refugee camp in Ethiopia, with no parenting care, Abraham dedicated his life to one day rebuilding South Sudan. He endured difficult and life-threatening hardships for many years, developing grit, persistence, and compassion.

Abraham embraced education at every opportunity. Since earning his MBA in 2009, Mr. Atem has used his experience and education to help vulnerable South Sudanese families and communities prosper. Working with Jonglei state’s neediest people for over a decade, Abraham developed a deep understanding of the myriad of hardships Jonglei’s poorest citizens live with. It increased his compassion for the challenges they face and his passion for easing their plight.

Abraham Atem, Founder

Abraham Atem
Former Secretary General and Acting Governor
Jongeli State, South Sudan

During the twelve years Mr. Atem worked on the ground in South Sudan, he realized his individual reach was limited. He could help many more people with programs to address the most significant hurdles to overcoming poverty and rebuilding South Sudan.

In 2021, Abraham created the Abraham Atem Foundation, a 501(c)(3), to fulfill his dream. The foundation’s focus is on education, vocational and livelihood skills, and protecting human rights for women and girls of South Sudan – the most vulnerable half of South Sudan’s citizens.

Abraham Atem’s Life Story

Abraham Atem was born in a village in Jonglei State in the then Sudan – now South Sudan. At a young age, the civil war that ravaged Sudan for 21 years forced him to leave his village and his parents.

Fleeing War in Sudan

While fleeing the war in Sudan, Abraham and other young people faced numerous hardships, including fatigue, hunger, disease, and wild animals. It was a risky and harrowing month’s-long journey to reach a refugee settlement on the Ethiopian border; many perished along the way. Abraham joined the Red Army in Ethiopia, becoming one of the thousands of displaced South Sudanese youth inspired to be the “seeds of the nation,” who would be the new nation’s conscience and build a foundation to increase job and educational opportunities.

Living in a Kenyan Refugee Camp

In 1992, displaced by the Ethiopian civil war, Abraham fled to the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. He lived there as a refugee minor until 2000 and completed his primary and secondary education through a United Nations High Commissioner for the Refugees (UNHCR) refugee education support program. He was among the South Sudanese lost boys resettled in the United States of America (USA) in 2000.

Earning his MBA

Upon arrival in Philadelphia, Mr. Atem immediately enrolled at Jesuit University (Saint Joseph’s University). He earned a Bachelor of Science (BS) Degree in Accounting and, in 2009, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in finance.

Rebuilding South Sudan

In 2010, Abraham moved back to South Sudan with his American education and values to fulfill his dream of helping rebuild his homeland. In 2011, by a vote of the people, South Sudan became an independent nation.

Knowing people were eager for opportunities to improve their lives, Mr. Atem volunteered with several organizations in South Sudan to equip and empower people to rebuild their lives and the country.

Dr. John Garang Memorial University

The university was founded in 2007 and has six colleges. The main campus, where Abraham served, is in Bor, South Sudan.

  • Accounting Department Head
  • College of Management Sciences Registrar
  • Dean of the College of Management Sciences
  • Accounting and Finance Assistant Professor
  • Current role: Director of Quality Assurance

Promoting Resilience through Ongoing Participatory Engagement and Learning (PROPEL)

A pilot United States Agency for International Development (USAID) project implemented by Global Communities designed to foster social cohesion and resilience in targeted communities in South Sudan.

  • Head of Promoting Resiliency among Jonglei State Communities

Participatory Humanitarian Action for Resilience & Recovery (PHARR)

Founded in July 2011, The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is a United Nations peacekeeping mission for South Sudan. Quick Impact Projects (QIPs) are small-scale, low-cost projects funded by UNMISS to improve social cohesion and promote the rule of law that are planned and implemented quickly.

PHARR is a non-profit humanitarian organization dedicated to alleviating human suffering in South Sudan by promoting self-reliance and resilience through community-driven developmental projects. PHARR implemented two QIPS: Police post and solar installation systems in Jonglei State and Greater Pibor Administrative Area.

  • Project manager

Community-Driven Development (CDD) Working Group

Played crucial roles in identifying potential opportunities to promote resiliency and productivity in communities of Jonglei state.

  • National Researcher and Member

Humanitarian Development Consortium South Sudan (HDC)

Founded in 2008, HDC provides emergency, humanitarian, and development programs in South Sudan. They serve women, girls, children, the elderly, persons with disabilities, internally displaced persons, returnees, refugees, and asylum seekers.

  • Head of Programs

Additional community service included:

  • Establishing community schools
  • Providing scholarships to girls and the most vulnerable children from poor families
  • Providing youth employment opportunities

Government Appointments

Because of Mr. Atem’s significant contribution to Jonglei state communities and the university, Abraham was offered and accepted several appointments.

  • Secretary General, Jonglei State
  • Acting Governor, Jonglei State; appointed by His Excellency the President of the Republic of South Sudan Salva Kiir Mayardit
  • Deputy Chairperson of Bor Globally

As Acting Governor, Abraham was honored to serve the South Sudanese people in a broader capacity. When massive flooding threatened the town of Bor, Mr. Atem helped avert a flood crisis by mobilizing young people and community members to build dykes along the Nile River. These dykes prevented Bor from being submerged in floodwaters. His exemplary role in significantly reducing flooding in and around Bor led the community to appoint him Deputy Chairperson of the Bor Community globally.

A Foundation to Expand Their Reach

As an individual, Abraham’s reach is limited. In 2021, he founded Abraham Atem Foundation (AAF) to provide a platform to deliver educational and humanitarian programs to uplift girls and women, the most vulnerable citizens of Jonglei State.

USA Operations

In 2022, after serving in South Sudan for eleven years, Abraham returned to the United States to seek financial support to expand the foundation’s scope and programs.

“Taking Town to the People”

Abraham’s vision aligns with South Sudan’s founder, Dr. John Garang De’ Mabior, “taking town to the people.” Meaning bringing the education and resources available in most towns to people in rural areas rather than forcing people living in rural areas to migrate to towns to uplift and empower themselves.

Help People Eager Help Themselves

Your support and donations can restore hope and enable more South Sudanese people to uplift, empower, and transform their lives. We appreciate your support.

Abraham Atem, Founder

Abraham Atem
Former Secretary General and Acting Governor
Jongeli State, South Sudan