recipient helps 'Lost Boys' and
others from East Africa
By Joel Seguine
Office of the Vice President for Communications
University of Michigan
In 1996 Micklina Pia Peter, a young woman refugee
from Sudan, was desperate to better herself in a culture where women
are commonly kept uneducated.
top photo: Anne Lythgoe,
Kenya, she wrote a letter to a Dominican nun she had heard about,
and now Peter is pursuing a double major in political science and
women and gender studies at the University of Colorado-Boulder.
That Dominican Sister, Luise Radlmeier, will be awarded
the 16th Raoul Wallenberg Medal by the University at 7:30 p.m. Oct.
5 in Rackham Auditorium. Provost Teresa Sullivan will introduce
Radlmeier, who then will deliver the Wallenberg Lecture. Peter also
will speak. The event is free and open to the public.
Contacted by e-mail, Sister Luise says news of the
award came as a great surprise.
"I had never expected something like that,"
she says. "I felt very undeserving for this award, but at the
same time grateful, because it will open new doors for funding to
help more Sudanese."
The major challenge currently facing Sister Luise,
she says, is how to cope with the hundreds of applications of former
child soldiers who want to learn a skill in order to return to Sudan
and to be self-supporting and to help in rebuilding their country.
Radlmeier was born in Germany to a family who helped
feed and shelter Jewish families in World War II. She has worked
in Africa since 1956. From her base in northern Kenya, Radlmeier
helps refugees from throughout East Africa, focusing in particular
on the lost generation of Sudanese youth. She has established dormitories
for students, a home for AIDS orphans and HIV-positive children,
a clinic, two nursery schools, a primary school and a modest hospital.
She especially is committed to supporting the education of children
in her care.
Her plan for the near future is to rescue 300 girls
from a remote refugee camp where they daily face abuse and exploitation,
and to provide them with an education in Nairobi. Radlmeier hopes
to eventually secure their resettlement in the West, as she did
for the Lost Boys of Sudan, a group of young orphaned refugees forced
from their villages by war to trek hundreds of miles through African
"Sister Luise not only answered my letter and
helped me to learn English," says Peter, "but she inspired
me to decide how I could make a contribution to the people of the
world, especially poor refugee women. I want to be a role model
for others as Sister Luise was for me," Peter says.
Along with her studies at Colorado, Peter has found
support from the Jewish community in Boulder to sponsor 10 Sudanese
girls to come to the U.S. for school. That base of support has broadened
so that Peter founded a nonprofit organization, the Committee of
Sudanese and American Women/Men, to sponsor more girls. "Our
goal right now is to sponsor nine single mothers and 24 girls,"
Raoul Wallenberg was a Swedish citizen who graduated
from the College of Architecture in 1935. In 1944 the Swedish Foreign
Ministry sent him on a rescue mission to Budapest, where his incomparable
personal courage and ingenuity saved 100,000 Jewish lives.
The Raoul Wallenberg Endowment was established at
U-M in 1985 in his memory and to recognize others whose own courageous
actions exemplify his extraordinary humanitarian accomplishments
and values. Previous Wallenberg Medal recipients include Miep Gies,
who supported Anne Frank and her family in hiding, and Nobel laureates
Elie Wiesel and His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
The lecture and medal ceremony are co-sponsored by
the Wallenberg Endowment and the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate
of Sudan" Find a Voice with Dominican Sister
ANN ARBOR, MI - October 5, 2006 -- Sr. Luise Radlmeier,
OP, a Dominican Missionary in Kenya, was awarded the Wallenberg Medal
at the University of Michigan October 5th. Read
an incredible story about one person making a difference.
of Sudan film