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Wek recognizes there’s a long way to go in South Sudan, and is especially passionate about promoting education and healthcare, particularly for young women. She told us how “really shocked I was that young girls, the age of eighth-graders—that’s 13 or 14 years old—are dying in childbirth. More than 50 percent of the country’s population is [under 18]. We have to empower them and encourage education to lead them to healthier lives so that there will be no repeat of the atrocities. A lot of lives were lost. At the end of this, we must build infrastructure. How else do you snap out of 20 years of fighting? We must give people the tools.”
In 2006, Wek started the non-profit foundation WEK, which stands for Working to Educate Kids, in order to play a bigger role in rebuilding communities by emphasizing the importance of education. Wek sees the value in this approach because of her belief that education will bring a diversity of students together so they can debate within the confines of a safe environment and learn how to “agree to disagree.” Wek believes this is a key component in building a future for a country that has long been riven by conflict.