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Two Hundred Kilometers to Life

John Machiek was one of the nine Coaches and mentors in South Sudan and Uganda trained in the Cloud Thinking Method.

“I grew up in a small rural village. My father was a keeper of cows. He earned only a little from minding roaming cows. I was fifteen years old by the time I went to school. While may kids of this age are already in high school, I could not read or write. It was my mother who before she died encouraged me to go to school so that I could help others. I didn’t want to let my mother down but I could not afford school. My only hope was to sell some cows but to do that I had to spend days alone in the bush rounding a few up then walk with them 200 kilometers to a town to sell them. I slept under the stars, felt hungry and thirsty and I was exhausted but I would not let my mother down and was determined to get an education. I somehow knew that this could change my life and I knew then I could help others.”

John sits in the Community Development office in Juba South Sudan telling me his story over a Zoom connection that crashes every few minutes due to unreliable data connection. I wait patiently in those moments when John is trying to reconnect. I think of this gentle young man dedicating his life to the youth that he has so much hope for and faith in. The older generation – mainly men - has made such a mess of bringing peace and prosperity to or world. John appears on the screen again.

“I did well at my school and came top of my classes. I worked many jobs to pay my way to university. I eventually attained my bachelor’s degree in Governance and International Relationships. My goal was to work in Community Development and help young people.” John lowers his head seemingly searching for words. “You Know so many of these kids had to join the army in the civil war and kill. It’s so wrong. They are so traumatized. They only know war. I want to help change their mindset, empower them and give them skills to solve problems peacefully.”

"You Know so many of these kids had to join the army in the civil war and kill".

John came in contact with Shikodo through our work with the South Sudanese Community Cultural Development Agency in Uganda. John received his Certificate of Accreditation in Coaching and Mentoring.

Empowering people struck with poverty, lack of food resources, fresh water and education is so vital. However, a key ingredient often missed in empowerment is the developing of a growth mindset with solution and strength focused skills. Shikodo’s tag line is It’s How You Think. John explains that so any of the youth have only thought in terms of fighting for survival. John wants to help them change how they think to a way of innovation and cooperation; a way of peace and growth.

John reflected back on his long 200-kilometre trek in searing heat that time when he was fifteen. “It was a long and hard journey but so worthwhile. I know now I can help bring a new life to so many young men and women.”

Thank you, John, for your hard work. John is one of the many valued team members of Shikodo daring to think differently.

Malcolm Hunt, Founder and Director Shikodo Ltd

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