Sebastian & Mathon
Born in the rural village of Mayen-Abun in Twic State, South Sudan, cousins Sebastian Maroundit and Mathon Noi were less than ten years old when war came to their village and separated them from their families. They escaped to Ethiopia only to experience war again within 4 years. In 1991, they escaped from Ethiopia and spent a year walking across the hot desert to a refugee camp in Kenya. In this camp, both entered first grade at age 14 and completed 8th grade. In 2001, Sebastian and Mathon were selected as two of the 3,800 who would resettle in the United States. Mathon graduated from Niagara University majoring in Accounting and Sebastian received an Associate's Degree in Business from Monroe Community College and studied further at SUNY Brockport.
In 2007, both returned to their village. During the war, Sebastian lost his father and Mathon his mother; they were reunited with their surviving parents after 18 years. They were dismayed to find their village with no roads, clean water, and children being taught under a large tree. The school had been destroyed.
Since that visit, they have been passionately committed to helping rebuild hope in their village by building schools and improving educational opportunities for the students.