When children in the town of Kit in southern Sudan go to school next summer, they will be able to thank friends a half a world a way in southern Maine.

The building under construction has been made possible by ASERELA, the Action for Self Reliance Association, a group started in Portland’s refugee community.

ASERELA will host its 15th annual Feast for the Children tonight at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland, an event open to the entire community featuring traditional Sudanese food, music and dance.

The organization is a testament to how much can be done with very little. Refugees resettled in Maine come here with nothing and face steep challenges getting an education and finding work.

But they also know that the people they left behind have even less.

The Sudanese immigrants in Portland were driven off their ancestral land in a brutal civil war and endured a hard life in refugee camps while waiting to find a permanent home.

But somehow, they have managed to help the people they left behind.

The Portland group built a school in a Ugandan refugee camp, and now that people are moving back to southern Sudan, it has raised $15,000, which is enough to build a new school in Kit.

The group’s success is a reflection of its resilience and determination.

Tonight’s event will be a celebration of that success, as well as a fundraiser. And it illustrates the connection between two spots on the globe that, at first blush, appear to have little in common.


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