“When I left Sudan, I said I would never run again.”
A unifying figure for South Sudan, Guor Mading Maker has become an inspiration for his country and people of all nations. Separated from his family at the age of 8, Guor was captured and enslaved, but gained freedom through something he would eventually do for the rest of his life. He ran. He ran to save his life. He ran to find freedom. He ran to find an opportunity; a way to start over. He found his way to a refugee camp and was eventually resettled in the US, where running took on a whole new definition for him. What was once a necessity to survive became a lifestyle that he used to inspire others.
Guor Mading Maker was known as “a man without a country” when he started to compete as a runner. He ran as an Independent Olympic Athlete in the 2012 Olympics. His story, along with numerous others, played a part in the creation of the IOC Refugee Olympic Team.
He eventually became one of the first to represent his country of South Sudan and became an inspiration to refugees around the world.
“It was very important for all refugees around the world, and others who are (feeling) hopeless about the future to (say) ‘I was just like you before but here I am now with the help of people,” he said.
Guor competed as a marathon runner in both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. In 2013, he was able to find his family in South Sudan and use his reunion story to raise awareness of the impact of war-torn conflict on families. This especially resonates with us and is one of the inspirations behind our children’s book, Our Family Photo. There is nothing more powerful than witnessing the reunion of family members who have become victims of conflict in war-torn countries.
We chose to “cartoonize” Guor because we were inspired by his unrelenting focus and perseverance. He made the conscious decision to not live his life as a victim. Instead, he took the opportunities given to him and transformed his life, relaying a simple message to refugees around the world: never give up.
Check out the award-winning documentary, Runner, all about Guor’s life.
About Our Inspiration Project:
The stories worth sharing. We “cartoonize” the characters whose stories continue to challenge and inspire us everyday, transforming our perspective of the world.