Opinion,By Lul Gatkuoth Gatluak
(Thessherald)–In everything we do, somehow, there are individuals who incredibly change the course of our lives. Such a change may come through verbal advice, encouragements or in form of teaching practical education.
One’s educational journey, did not start in early life, despite lack of physical development and ignoring the importance of education. Though one’s maternal uncles had acquired some basic literacy during one’s early childhood, realization of following their footsteps did not come quickly enough. The emulation of following their footsteps came after one’s teenage years. In early stage of that journey, both Gatwech Gatluak and Gatwech Wuol were among people who were one early education teachers.
In fact, Gatwech Gatluak Wang was the one who voluntarily taught this writer in first grade. Amicably, the author still remember some of his classmates by names, which included herein, Nhial Majiok, Ochan Pal Bie, Khor Guang loa, Riek Khat Marwang, Tang Dong Bukjiok, Ruey Yoa Yat, Taidor Tut Gach, Pal Tut Gai, Dobuol Khat Chuol Bol Pal Gatluak and many others. When Gatwech Gatluak passed his 8 grade examination with higher marks that qualified him to be sent for further studies by the United nations staff responsible for refugees educational programs, he told us,
“I am not going to leave you alone, I will talk to Gatwech Wuol and takeover your instruction.”Gatwech Gatluak
At that particular period, Gatwech Would has just came back to Itang after he had completed his 12 grade diploma.
Without hesitation or quit pro quo, Gatwech Wuol agreed he will be our instructor. However, before Gatwech Wuol could started teaching, he suggested Seven Day Adventist church, which was located in Falang, must be located to Tharpam citing overcrowdness issue in Falang. That suggestion was not keenly welcomed by some church leaders.
Instantly, Evangelist Gatwech Lual Nyagoka and others reacted squarely against relocation of the church. His reaction resulted into a conference which was overwhelmingly attended by many if not all Seven Day Adventist members in both Itang and Gambella including Pastors Pal Panom and Chieng Chut.
However, such well attended conference didn’t solve the problem, given that people were divided in a point they didn’ want to pray under one roof. Some remained with Gatwech Lual in Falang and Gatwech Wuol moved with the rest to Tharpam. Majority of Gatwech Wuol supporters were students.
In a very short period of time after Gatwech had located to Tharpam, we established (Center Gatwech Wuol) together with him. Subsequently, he began teaching and arranged classes from one to three grade levels. This author and some of his colleagues whose names are mentioned above, were in the third grade which was the highest level at the time before we appealed that class levels must be raised up to the 6 grade.
During that early stage of Center Gatwech Wuol establishment, Gatwech was the one who teach all the classes until when he recruited more teachers some in Itang Secondary school and the rest within our classes.
Individuals like Tibang Lam, Lol Nyanyak, Chiech Bel, Kach Both, Khor Guang, and little Lam Chuol Thichuong, among others began to teach us eventhough we were in the same class with them. Khor Guang Guang in particular became our Math substitute teacher.
If anyone tried to question why Khor would teach us when we are in the same class with him, Gatwech regularly assured individuals that, Khor had already know enough Math and he is qualified to teach.
Beside shortage of teachers, Center Gatwech Wuol was also confronted by the lack of blackboards and chalk boards. We were using zinc that has been polished with flash light batteries.
One day, Gatwech started a conversation, he talked about how we can find blackboards for our classes. He told us we have one of our son who love to educate our society and that person is Simon Nipnip Reath, he said if he could find transportation fee, he would like to visit him.
By that time, Simon Nipnip was the chief administrator in Abobo. We suggested to him we must contribute money in all classes. Those in class one must contribute one Ethiopian Biry, two will contribute two and three will contribute three. The next day we brought all the money and Gatwech left for Abobo.
When he arrived there and met Simon Nipnip, Simon took him to school headquarter and call the meeting with teachers. After the meeting, Gatwech was given 6 blackboards together with countless chalks. Simon also wrote a letter that Gatwech should used to request more chalks once he ran out of what he brought from him.
After we had enough blackboards and chalks, more students joined the educational program and Center Gatwech Wuol, became one of the successful primary schools center which helped in educating students in Itang in 980s. Many individuals some of whom are now serving in various institutions, some are holding both undergraduate and graduate degrees, are produce of Gatwech Center.
As we continue to live, both Gatweches, will be greatly remembered as most influential role models for developing educational curriculum programs in Itang refugee camp. It is so unfortunate that, their precious life was cut short. May their soul continue to rest in eternity.