Bullets to Books — Awards and Festivals
Bullets to Books — Friends FaceBook Group
Bullets to Books — Music Collection
South Sudan — Shared Story
Bullets to Books — Team
Juba Digital Storytelling for Peace and Unity
Jok Abraham Thon, the founder of Promised Land Secondary School in Juba, South Sudan, believes that human beings can “change their minds from bullets to books”. Inspired by Jok’s mission, we started BULLETS TO BOOKS, a global transformer that relies on education and cultural exchange for peace and unity.
Bullets to Books was launched in 2019 to help Jok realize his mission
We started with three goals:
- Help Jok replace the temporary structures of his Promised Land Secondary School with permanent buildings. (In progress)
- Produce a documentary film to raise awareness and support for Jok’s vision. (Completed)
- Host Jok in America to meet with students and social change-makers. (Completed)
Thanks to the support of the US Embassy in Juba, the Arts Envoy Program, and the Mandela Washington Fellowship Reciprocal Exchange component, we went to South Sudan to begin our efforts on BULLETS TO BOOKS. We led art, music, and filmmaking workshops, started to film our documentary film, collaborated with artists and musicians as well as met with Americans and South Sudanese students and adults who are committed in efforts to bring peace and unification to South Sudan.
89.7 Top FM in Juba South Sudan hosted Jon Cebra, public affairs office at the US Embassy, Juba, and Gail Prensky to talk about BULLETS to BOOKS and The Jüdische Kulturbund Project. Listen here to the program. (June 7, 2019)
I AM PEACE musicians wrote and performed the BULLETS TO BOOKS theme song produced by Ochwo Junior Linus at Asylum Records Ltd in Juba. (June 9, 2019)
Several months later in South Sudan, director/cinematographer/editor Achuoth Deng and I AM PEACE and The Jüdische Kulturbund Project produced a music video based on the theme music.
In October 2020, Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumnus Jok Abraham Thon and Reciprocal Exchange Participant Gail Prensky were invited to discuss the power of storytelling, as part of the Fellowship’s virtual programming for Alumni and 2020 selected candidates. Their discussion introduced a module facilitated by Institute Partners from the University of Georgia on Digital Storytelling: New Models to Promote Local Initiatives After a Crisis.
South Sudanese artist Akot Solip shared watercolor samples that depict what BULLETS TO BOOKS mean to hi, above. Students are encouraged to creatively express the impact and influence of Jok’s mission. For example, this poem written by Gour Atem Gour, 2019 Alumni, The Promised Land Secondary School, below.
A Poem About Bullets to Books
I am tired of being a refugee, yeah being here did save my life and I appreciate that.
I am tired because I was made to be here intentionally, And due to conflicts of self interest.
I am losing my identity here, I’m world widely known as a refugee and they have forgotten that I had my own land.
I had a place I once called home, I had my own small fertile land that changed my diet and most importantly I was known by my identity “A southerner “
I’m ashamed of being in a refugee camp all my life, especially in the twenty-first century.
It’s really embarrassing, To see other countries competing of development and advancing technology every year, when I’m still hiding in the bush thinking of which tribe to raid and attacks.
We are full of sorrows and grief because we still believe in revenge, We live in a constant fear like predictors in the jungle.
We know no justice not even to the innocent souls that die daily Nor the rights of the victims anymore.
The rule of law is now in the hands of the gunmen.
We no longer have peace, thought our government preaches peace more than the gospel every day, We still have hidden weapons behind our backs.
It’s all our fault that hundreds of thousands are surviving to death
It’s our fault to prefer being fed like pets in refugee camps and abundant our motherland.
Sometimes we ought to step back to save others, Our forefathers and fathers have done enough sacrifices for our sake, they have shed enough blood too.
It’s time we stop point figures and seek reconciliation, It’s time we get rid of tribalism and bare one identity for all ” South Sudanese”, It’s time to silence the guns and restore equality for all, Unity is strength, We are one Nation, one people.
JOK TALKS IN AMERICA
Peace Jam’s Billion Acts of Peace Award given to Jok Abraham Thon and Bullets to Books, October 2021.
New Disarmament Today Podcast: A conversation with #Youth4Disaramment member Jok Abraham Thon about changing minds from bullets to books, December 8, 2021. Listen here.
Speaking tour at schools and faith-based organizations, October to December, 2021.
Jok spoke at various schools including Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, MD, City Springs Middle School in Baltimore, Maryland and Eastside Charter School in Wilmington, Delaware. He presented a program at the St. Thomas Episcopal Parish in Newark, Delaware and the Hebrew Congregation in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands.
Engaging Broadway artists to help raise awareness and support, February 20, 2021.
Stars in the House hosted a special BULLETS TO BOOKS virtual event, featuring musicians Jessie Muehler and August Hauss. The event raised awareness and support for the rebuilding of Promised Land Secondary School. The next day, Playbill featured BULLETS TO BOOKS to help with the effort.
PROGRESS AT PROMISED LAND
In 2016, Jok and friends built temporary structures made out of bamboo, mud, and cement. In order to continue Jok’s mission to bring peace to his country and the world by curing illiteracy and encouraging empowerment, new structures need to be built. Thanks to the Bullets to Books team’s efforts to raise awareness and support and South Sudanese architect Moses Mawa’s vision, Jok has started constructing permanent buildings on the Ubuntu Campus at Promised Land.
Renderings of the Ubuntu Campus, designed by Moses Mawa, October 2021.
The Ruth Bader Ginsburg Building, construction started in 2021.
The Bullets to Books Library, construction started in 2021.
The South Sudan flag flies above the Digital Screening and Computer Center standing between the Bullets to Books Library and the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Building, September 18, 2021.