SOAP FOUNDER: DUT BIOR
Perhaps Dut Bior’s path in life was determined the day he was born, when his mother named him Dut which means courage. His personal journey from his mother country of Sudan has tested his courage beyond the boundaries of darkness. Dut had no idea his path in life would ask so much of him and with great courage he has risen to his calling and taken personal responsibility to create new futures for those he left behind in the arid desert of East Africa. Through this journey, Dut discovered his mission in life and it has given him an optimistic outlook in his sunny brown eyes. Dut, now in his mid-20s is focused on bringing long-term solutions to his mother country.
As a very young boy, Dut Bior was awakened by gunfire from rebel weapons. Fearing for his life, he ran for safety and ultimately with little choice left his family behind at age 6. Very confused and uncertain of his future, he and approximately 27,000 other young boys set out on a 600-mile journey to Ethiopia to find safety. This group of displaced children ages 5-10 years old would later become known to the world as ‘The Lost Boys of Sudan.’ The boys travelled through the wild desert with no adult protection or guidance, in constant danger of being attacked by wild animals or rebels, barefoot, and with very little food or water to sustain such a large group.
This epic journey claimed the lives of boys who will never be known subsequently only 3,000 boys found safety in a refugee camp in Ethiopia. The following years, Dut moved several times to different refugee camps where hardship and survival was a way of life. In reflection of the experiences while in the camps, Dut often says what frustrated him the most was not the lack of food or clothing but the lack of educational substance. Regardless of Dut’s environment, he sought out and took advantage of every educational opportunity available in the camps, but those opportunities were very limited. With extreme determination, Dut earned his high school diploma in a Kakuma refugee camp in 2005.
Thanks to the assistance of the United Nations, Dut came to the United States in 2006 and integrated into Salt Lake City, Utah. In 2012, Dut graduated with his associates degree in computer information systems from the Salt Lake Community College which was no small feat for a man who had never before seen a computer. Dut is currently pursuing a degree in computer science at Weber Sate University. With the blessing of experiencing the education he always desired, he hoped for a way to give back to those who are still struggling to survive in his mother country but who deeply desire to earn an education to enrich their life and the lives of others.
Since Dut came to the United States, he has set aside money to keep a promise to a childhood friend, Malaak Ayuen, he met many, many years before in a refugee camp in Kenya. In 2009 Dut attended a reunion for Sudanese refugees. Touched by what he heard at the conference — its theme was “What are you doing to give back?”—he decided to found the student orphan aid program, SOAP International. This non-profit organization has expanded by his own efforts from socking money away for one student to providing scholarships to 12 students. Despite Dut’s own struggles, he like many other refugees is remarkably generous and his endeavour is a moving story of courage, sacrifice and hope.