Anonymous Matching Grant to “Get Tito to Gloria’s Build!”: see details on donate page!

Regarding the horrors happening in Sudan and South Sudan again: Our school is thankfully rather isolated in a village called Leer, which has been targeted in the past but seems okay now. When Mary Grace (UOCO (USA) president and liaison) was there for the first time in 2013, the new country of South Sudan was still setting up their political structure. During her stay, the Vice President of the new South Sudan was fired by President Salva Kiir because the Vice President was a Nuerman from our village, Leer. There were intense upheavals and attacks in Leer during the Civil War that followed independence from Sudan. That conflict has mostly settled down. However, the civil war in Sudan (across the border to the north) and increasing instability in Darfur (far to the west) is creating a crushing migrant flow, internal and external. The pressure of increased people fleeing, though not heading to Leer, destabilizes food sources and access for our kids and community. But the staff is dedicated.  Even when the school had to be quickly evacuated a couple years ago, children were hidden and protected in the bush, and thankfully, no children or staff have been killed or hurt since we started the school. 
Thank you for your love, prayer, support and concern for this good effort, half a world away.


For now, until the kids and staff at our South Sudan war orphan residential school are fed and safe, our Boards (one here in the USA for outreach and funding, the other there to run the Hand of Hope Community School) are all volunteers.

This seems appropriate to me and to our board. We’ll grow slowly but steadily, toward a safe, caring, educational home for more children, and then perhaps be able to pay qualified, compassionate people to work at UpperNile Orphans Care Organization.

We are excited to share that an amazing retired nurse has granted us with enough donated stock to build our simple school compound, and Rotary International is pairing with Rotary of South Sudan to work toward a borehole for water access. We do need to put up some of the funding for that, too.

We could use donated airline miles as well. We welcome you to join us in practical volunteer work, and could sure use your financial support wisely.

Peace and gratitude,

Mary Grace, President and Liaison, UOCO (USA)

Upper-Nile Orphans Care Organization

Who Are We?

UpperNile Orphans Care Organization is an official NGO in South Sudan, Africa, and a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt educational charity in the USA. Our first project is the founding of a war orphan boarding school in South Sudan.
This is an international effort by staff and volunteers. We value a collaborative, accountable, intentional focus to help vulnerable children in South Sudan community.

Map showing South Sudan

The reality we want to change

War Torn School

"Our war orphan boarding school project gives real orphaned and vulnerable children a loving home, tender healing and HOPE."

“The only way to restore hope for war weary children is quality education. Establishing a Boarding School for orphaned and disadvantaged children will absolutely restore hope for our most vulnerable.”

Timeline of our work

August, 2020:  The UOCO board submitted to RRC (Relief and Rehabilitation Commission of South Sudan) a proposal for the registration of the organization.

August, 2020: UOCO was first registered by RRC in South Sudan’s capital, Juba.

January, 2021: UOCO acquired unsurveyed land in Bow Payam, and in Kulier near the UNMISS base in Leer.

October, 2021: UOCO was officially opened with 8 children in Tuochriak highland.

June, 2022: After the April 2022 fight that destroyed the highland, the organization moved to Leer.

August, 2022: The new compound with a fence was constructed.

February, 2024: The new land 25/80 meters ( 80×260 feet) was acquired.


Our vision is for all children, everywhere, to have what and whom they need to grow into joyful, healthy, happy, engaged people who can live lives of peace.

Mission Statement

UOCO’s mission is to provide safe, kind care with free education for vulnerable girls and boys, ages 3-15. This participatory, collaborative effort will build to a capacity of 50 student-residents. Integrating conflict resolution skills into academic studies will empower these traumatized children and give them valid options in their lives.

Once well established, we can host volunteer teachers or community volunteers. We plan to eventually link with an international exchange program, train community health workers and offer scholarships to universities and link with the community for adult literacy.

Our Organization

August 2020, UpperNile Orphans Care Organization (UOCO) became an official Non-Governmental Organization (NGO). UOCO is linked in the USA is a 501(c) 3 tax exempt, charitable organization. Our first project is the Hands of Hope Community School, in Leer County, South Sudan.

We chose a different name for the school itself so as not to stigmatize the children. Besides Tito, the original dreamer of this project, there are handfuls of dedicated workers and volunteers in South Sudan, Kenya and the USA!

Exciting news!


We welcomed our first eight children in October of 2021, and now we have 27 vulnerable children safely protected at Hand of Hope (HoH) residential school. UOCO joyfully announces a gracious donation of a large number of stock options by a retired nurse in North Carolina, Gloria Ann Evans, who has worked extensively in South Sudan. THIS DONATION WILL, CRUCIALLY, FUND MOST OF THE BUILDING OF THE SCHOOL COMPOUND ITSELF. Our priorities are straight: our children are fed, kindly cared for and educated, but living all together in one hut (which leaks and has termites) with staff and supplies. This amazing gift will allow us to almost double the number of children we can welcome, with a significantly improved school space! To accept this stock donation, we found a kind volunteer financial advisor who offered to set up a special account. We are required by law to set up a separate account to legally accept this donation, and the brokerage company is giving us a 70% discount on the fees. Ann Evans had already donated $10,000 this year in September after vetting our work and organizational improvement. Once this project is complete, we will shift our fundraising focus to mostly food, staffing, supplies, other school necessities, and to further outreach into the local community. The UOCO Board here in the USA and in Africa, the students, staff and all the other volunteers gratefully acknowledge this wonderful gift.  

What do you think our priorities should be? Might you become part of our growing “monthly donor base” so that we can be more consistent in our budgeting needs?

The World Health Organization announced that the flooding in South Sudan is the worst in 60 years, and attributes this flooding to the worldwide climate chaos. We simply could not safely access the UOCO purchased land. UOCO, therefore, moved the intended school site to the more accessible land of a partnering NGO. As of the summer of 2023, Hand of Hope Community School has built a compound, fence and school latrines. We also have our first local female teacher, which are awesome steps! However, almost 30 children are crammed with the caring staff into one large hut. The rainy season will come soon, and it will be rather unhealthy, as well as uncomfortable, to be all together under one roof. Your donations truly make a difference.
Good job everyone!

As Tito said: “If you have a heart for children, we welcome you to this work for war orphans and other vulnerable children.

Current Steps​

An important moment for us:

Our board member Tab Gadiet, far left, who lives in the Capital city Juba, negotiated and purchased the land up in Leer… However, the worst flooding in 60 years (according to the WHO) prevented us from accessing the land, so we’ve partnered with another NGO, and have already set up the school in a new compound. 

UOCO’s Hand of Hope Community School! New home. New hope!

We have about 30 students now, relaxing, eating, playing and learning in a safe place with kind adults. Jumping rope, playing soccer with a duct-taped ball, delightfully normal activities. 

This residential school for vulnerable children will reach the capacity of 50 as funding permits. There are more children on our waiting list than we can feed, house and educate. If you can help with donations, legacy giftsgrant writing or volunteering, please see our Donation and Contact page.

Our Dream In One Picture


NEEDS: We need all the obvious: secure housing, food, staff, teacher, care-takers, books, kitchen and bedding items along with other supplies…and a water-well! We are working with Rotary International on the possibility of a well!

Please consider sharing our website with your friends and family:

Tax deductible Checks can be made to UOCO and sent to our 501(c)(3):
UOCO (UpperNile Orphans Care Organization)
PO Box 61765, Durham, NC 27715.

Donations can be made through the website, through automatic bank deposits or by check. Our 501(c)(3) status allows us to legally accept tax-deductible donations, including stock options. All donations small and large are most welcome; 100% of donations go to South Sudan.

If you can consider making a recurring monthly donation, that will help us more securely plan for budgeting needs.

If you are interested in leaving a “Legacy Gift” in your will, or donating stock, please contact UOCO President and Liaison Mary Grace at

DONORS: We now have a small cadre of monthly donors, from $2-$400 per month. Consistent donations large and small help us budget with less precarity. The bulk of UOCO donations still come from individual donors, and we are profoundly grateful for all support.
We would love help with grant searches, too!
Finally, if you are a teacher, counselor or child care practitioner who wants to volunteer in South Sudan for a month or more, please contact Tito and Mary Grace directly, at and with your resume or CV and a cover letter explainging why you’d like to go. If you are able to donate airline miles for volunteers to travel, that’s a great way to help!
TRAUMA NOTE: If you have a special concern for traumatized children, we would appreciate special funding to have a therapist visit the children once a week, to talk with them both in group and as individuals.

See Donate and Contact page for links to donate! All donations are appreciated and 100% of donations go to South Sudan. 

With deep gratitude.
Mary Grace, President and Liaison UOCO (USA) 
571-334-8265 or