Bol Aweng talks with fifth graders at Hawthorne Elementary.
Life has been a long and harrowing journey for artist Bol Aweng, but he has come a long way, as evidenced by his visit to Hawthorne Elementary School this week.
As a six year old child, Aweng fled the civil war in his country of Sudan in 1987, along with 35,000 other “Lost Boys,” walking 1,500 miles to Ethiopia and then Kenya, barefoot and unescorted. The youngsters fought off lions, starvation, illness and rebel forces. Bol ended up in refugee camps, where he lived for 14 years. There, he honed art skills on his own from memory and imagination, using the limited materials that were available. Eventually, he was resettled in Nashville, Tennessee, and then moved to Columbus, Ohio, where he earned a Fine Art degree in 2009 from The Ohio State University. Many of the paintings he sells today tell the story of the Lost Boys, which he calls the “Journey of Hope.” He also illustrated a book, titled Malauk’s Cows.
Upon returning to Piol in 2007, Aweng re-connected with the family he hadn’t seen in 20 years, many of whom, remarkably, had also survived. He and his cousin, Jok Dau (another Lost Boy) discovered that health care in his impoverished hometown village was extremely inadequate. They decided to take action and after much fund-raising, they were able to construct a health facility there in 2012, the Buckeye Clinic, which provides medical care to the villagers. That’s where Hawthorne comes in.
To assist with fundraising for the Buckeye Clinic, Hawthorne fifth graders will be participating in a persuasive writing activity. Their main goal will be to share information about the Buckeye Clinic, its initiatives, and its purpose. Students will be writing to ask for local businesses to consider supporting the clinic. This writing activity ties in with English Language Arts standards for 5th grade.
Aweng now lives in Hilliard with his wife, daughter and two sons. Learn more about Bol Aweng’s art on his website, www.bolaweng.com, and the Buckeye Clinic by visiting http://buckeyeclinic.org.