Omaha – To speak to Ruey Dei (pronounced Ray Day) is to speak to someone who is kind, determined, and passionate about life. Ruey was born in the war-torn country of Sudan. At age seven he became a refugee and started a new life in the United States. In an excerpt from Omaha World– Herald columnist, Erin Grace says, “He sees life as having worked out for him and believes that his destiny is to work things out for others, specifically those in desperate straits.”
Last year, Ruey and his wife, Michaela, began the journey back to Ruey’s homeland, now known as South Sudan. The journey was long, tiring, and not for the faint-hearted. They trekked miles and miles through dangerous terrain in hopes of reaching their final destination, Bool in South Sudan. During their journey they quickly started running out of water. Michaela tried to call the U.S. Embassy but received little sympathy.
I have always had a heart to help people who are struggling and suffering around the world."
- Ruey Dei
The group eventually got to Motot where Ruey’s family had traveled to meet them. After twenty years, Ruey was reunited with his mother, Nyalual Peat Rial. After just a week with his mother, Ruey said goodbye again searching for a safe way out of South Sudan.
The journey home was just as uncertain and complicated as the journey there. They paid a humanitarian group $400 to fly them to Juba and once there they had to have Michaela’s family wire them $1,000 to get to Addis Ababa. After another long, tiring journey, the Deis finally made it home.
Ruey’s life experience is one that many cannot imagine. He started off as a refugee from a war-torn land and is now working on a dual master’s degree at UNO.
Ruey decided to pursue his dual MPA and MSW degree at UNO because he says he has a passion for learning more about serving the public, delivering services, and protecting citizens. While working on his degree, being a husband and father, Ruey also started his own organization, New Day, which helps children in South Sudan get food and education.
When asked why he decided to start his organization Ruey said, “I have always had a heart to help people who are struggling and suffering around the world. Being from South Sudan, an underdeveloped nation that has experienced countless civil wars and has never experienced tranquility, I’ve learned a lot.”Ruey considers himself lucky to get an education. He recognizes that his education is not just for him. It is also for his family, village, community, and South Sudan. He says that getting his degree will help him manage New Day with accountability and transparency. Ruey hopes to utilize the skills he is learning in his MPA to prepare him for any career in the future whether that be government, public services, nonprofit, or the business sector.
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