A refugee finds happiness at Catholic school

Aluel Doldol came to Annunciation School in fifth grade. She loved school but spoke little English when she first arrived for class.

“That was my hardest year at Annunciation,” said 18-year-old Aluel. “My English was terrible. It was frustrating because I couldn’t communicate, and I love to talk. But the teachers worked one-on-one with me and I stayed after school. It helped a lot.”

A refugee from Sudan, Doldol and her family struggled financially. Through a scholarship from Seeds of Hope, her mother was able to provide the Catholic education she dreamed of for her children.

The school had a positive impact on her life after she and her family fled Africa. They lived as farmers in Sudan, but everyone around them was suffering. They were forced to leave Sudan and stayed at a refugee camp in Kenya.

“That place was horrible,” Aluel recalled. “There wasn’t enough food. It was a desert. There was nothing to do. It’s hard to forget.”

The United Nations approved their refugee status and they traveled to a church in Colorado that agreed to help them adjust to their new lives. Aluel was 6 years old.

Aluel said her experience at Annunciation School was the catalyst for a positive change. Teachers would stay after school and work one-on-one with her. She learned English quickly with the help of others. She stays in touch with the teachers and her two best friends she met at the school.

“They made me feel like I could accomplish things,” she said. “That made me really happy.”

Aluel later graduated from Arrupe Jesuit High School and was accepted into the University of Notre Dame on a full ride scholarship through the Daniels Fund.

“I’m so excited,” she said, talking about dreams of majoring in international economics. “I had a difficult childhood, but I’m really happy about my experience at Annunciation.”

 

Aluel’s take on service

Q: How do you strive to be of service to others?

A: I love to volunteer and start groups. I once started a club for writing. At Annunciation, I went to a youth adventure group called Camp Hero. We went biking, white water rafting and would read and do math. In high school, I returned to volunteer at the same camp. I also joined the Volunteers of America. I still volunteer.