Family gives back to fledgling nation

Trudey, Medina, Trisha and George Oling helped oversee the building of the new school.

Trudey, Medina, Trisha and George Oling helped oversee the building of the new school.

An 11-kilometre school commute is not remarkable in the Baw Baw Shire with students often travelling twice that distance by bus or car every day.
However, in an East African country which is only eight years old and still recovering from the ravages of decades of civil war, such a journey can be impossible.
Warragul resident George Oling has just returned from a six-month trip to South Sudan where he oversaw the dedication and opening of a new school near the township of Obbo.
George and his wife Medina spent a large portion of their earlier lives in refugee camps in Uganda following years of civil war in Sudan. They met, fell in love and were married in one of these camps in the early 2000s. George came to Australia in 2005 and Medina followed him a year later upon completion of a scholarship. The couple have six children – four of whom attend Chairo Christian College in Drouin.
George and Medina are directors of African Action International (AAI) – an organisation founded by Warragul couple John and Jean Leak. AAI is involved in developing projects to help communities and families rise above poverty.
George and Medina met John and Jean not long after moving to Warragul. As their friendship developed Jean and John were struck that despite the traumatic time George and Medina had endured, they were committed to try and help the community they left behind. Jean recalls George saying that the people from their hometown Obbo “were doing it very tough.” Jean says she never fails to be inspired by people like George and Medina. “Despite enduring what they did and seeing their region’s destruction, it’s remarkable that they want to return and help out.”
Like most of the country, the town of Obbo in South Sudan was nearly destroyed by civil war. Tens of thousands of people were displaced by the fighting and many people including George and Medina found themselves in refugee camps in neighbouring Uganda.


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