UpperNile Orphans Care Organization

UOCO South Sudan


Founder and Executive Director

I am a South Sudanese national, born from Leer, Unity State, Bentiu. Professionally, I am a clinical officer [CO] holding a 3-year diploma in clinical medicine and public health from AMREF South Sudan [2005]. I am also one year [DL] student pursuing Bachelor`s degree of Arts in Humanitarian and conflict response [HCR] at the UK, University of Manchester. My previous work experiences: I have 26 years work experience with MSF-Holland as national staff in South Sudan [from 1989-2015]. I have 31 months experience with MSF- Holland as humanitarian international staff [from 2016-Feb 2020], nine months in Nigeria’s Borno State malnutrition program, 12 months in Bangladesh with the Rohingya refugee crisis, and nine months in Yemen’s Taiz mother and child health hospital.
My dream for this orphan care organization came in 2016 after my wife Roda, our six children and I welcomed one orphan amputee child into our family. He lost his mother in a car accident before his sixth month. With my years of humanitarian experience the question became; how many orphans are in South Sudan after this last civil war? Can we [you and I] change the orphans’ lives to a hopeful future?
My years of humanitarian experiences and the care of this one child did not just give me courage, it gave me hope to begin my long-term dream to protect and care for vulnerable orphaned children whose parents died before a hopeful future could be lived. I believe if we partake, if we come together with a commitment and join hands, the Hand of Hope Community School will indeed bring hopeful future to minors who are currently hopeless.


Chairperson of UOCO’s Board of Directors

I am Programme Manager at CEDS (Centre for Emergency and Development Support, WASH). By way of introduction, I am from the Republic of South Sudan, and support UOCO. I am personally very excited to be part of Tito’s dream. Leer, in Unity State, became the most devastated county in the country of South Sudan; everything was destroyed, including the educational infrastructures that Mary Grace saw in 2013 while volunteering as an English teacher. 

Like Tito, I have a consistent determination and interest in promoting education, having begun my own primary school initiative in Wau, Western Bahr el Ghazal, South Sudan where I was working before 2013. I left Wau in December 2013 one week after the Juba Massacre – I fled because of the war.  I went back to the area last July and couldn’t believe my eyes – the school was expanded to a high school and the primary school was also expanded to many classes!” We can do the same!


Board Member

I am a South Sudanese National, born from Leer County-Unity State. I hold a Master Degree of Law (LL.M) in International Law from Wuhan University (WU)-China, a Bachelor Degree of Laws (LL. B) with Second Class Honors from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA), Nairobi-Kenya. I finished my early studies in Kenya. I am currently working and volunteering for Uppernile Orphans Care Organization (UOCO) as Program Manager, am a part time lecturer at Catholic University of South Sudan and a legally licensed practicing advocate and legal consultant. I previously worked for UNIDO South Sudan as Child Protection Officer where I was also the focal person for Protection case management and in deepening the attainment of the rule of law, supporting access to justice and advocating for gender equality and women empowerment. As a legal professional who is diligent and determined in advocating for equality, fair and just society by giving equal opportunities for members of my community irrespective of their social status, race, culture, gender, religion or political affiliations, I am passionate in enhancing a dignified life for our needy children by building their hopes, trust and confidence within their socio–economic and cultural development.

I am thrilled, encouraged and inspired by this important long term goal of raising the hope of vulnerable children through education within the context of a caring, purposeful and educational community, courtesy of Hands of Hope Community School. Most importantly, reckoning on my past experiences of having been once a beneficiary of a charity, courtesy of GUA-AFRICA and also a founding member of Mat Africa Education and Development Fund (MADEF), this work not only gives me hope and motivation, but also challenges me to be responsive in the community’s need. I give my free service as part of giving back to my community. I therefore render my needed services to the society in general and to my community in particular, through my current and past experiences by discharging my managerial skills through Uppernile Orphans Care Organization (UOCO).


Kenyan UOCO Liaison

I was born and raised in the vast Rift Valley in Kenya. We were a family of twelve. Five girls and five boys. Both my parents have rested albeit at a young age.
I am married to George and we are lucky to raise four beautiful children – two girls and two boys.
I have worked with the Central Bank of Kenya for over twenty years as an Assistant Manager. I have worked in various departments of the Bank and I have one or two things to offer UOCO. I am personate with the vulnerable, especially the suffering children in the world, more specifically the children of South Sudan. I always believe that the people of South Sudan are cousins of the (Kalenjin) people where I belong.
I served as a Board Member in Dominion’s Children Home in Eldoret, Kenya between 2014-2016. The children home helps orphans and needy children in Kenya and it is also a non-profit organization.


Board Member UOCO

She is the Big Ocean Women South Sudan Cottage president, a YALI alumni and has won numerous other prestigious fellowships. She is Special Assistant to the AU chairperson advisor on policy and strategic relation with the African Union Organs (AUO). As head of Gender Programs at the Assistance Mission for Africa (AMA) and US Institute Of Peace, Youth Country Liaison for South Sudan and Uganda, Nyachangkuoth Rambang Tai raises awareness of the cross-cutting nature of gender equality considerations in social, economic, political, scientific, cultural, and educational fields.

Nyachangkuoth Rambang Tai is a feminist, a peace activist, human rights defender and co-founder of The Mother Care Organization. She seeks the participation and inclusion of women in decision-making processes and the protection of women from all types of violence. Nyachangkuoth also conducts trainings and workshops that empower women to embrace free, just, dignified, and self-actualizing lives in South Sudan. In her work, she incorporates the Generation Change training manual, which has allowed her to effectively transform her community. She was a USIP youth advisory council and briefed the UNSC on South Sudan representing South Sudan civil society.

Nyachangkuoth is a graduate of Bahr El Ghazal University with a bachelor’s degree in economics and social studies from the Department of Rural Development.


Financial Officer for UOCO

My name is Theng Tut Kach Theng. I am 23 years old and a South Sudanese by Nationality from Leer County-Unity State, where the boarding school is being built. I am currently working for Uppernile Orphans Care Organization (UOCO) as Finance Officer.

I have a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from The Catholic University of South Sudan, I completed my schooling in Kenya. Having been a beneficiary of a charity help from various well-wishers during my tender age while I was pursuing my dreams, I am passionately motivated and moved by the Hand of Hope initiative; this is one way of giving back to my community. I therefore wish to render my needed services to the society in general and to my community in particular, through my financial management skills. I will not only manage the financial transactions for the Uppernile Orphans Care Organization (UOCO) but also grow and develop my career within the Organization’s management system.


UOCO Board Member


UOCO maintenance and practical support.

Lokiri (James) has been the “go-to” person to get things and people moved, fixed, protected or contacted. Just a gem of a man.


UOCO Board Member

I am a Field Monitoring Assistant at WFP South Sudan. I would like to introduce myself; I am from the Republic of South Sudan, and support UOCO. I am very excited to be part of Tito’s dream. I have learned from Tito how he came about this and I was touch by the story. South Sudan has been devastated by the conflict over years, especially in the greater Upper Nil region which left many children orphaned, with no hope. I am happy that Tito has this dream to be the hope of these children by building a school to accommodate these Orphan children and restore their hope and future.

We all have dreams but I am so happy to this unique dream of Tito! Tito has drawn his dreams from real life experiences by helping orphan child which later opened his mind and made him think bigger for the rest of the children. His big heart led to UOCO.
May God bless this dream.


UOCO - Hand of Hope Community School
Teacher-Leer unity state South Sudan

My name is Philip Bieh Tap, I am 39 years old male South Sudanese by nationality from Leer County-Unity State. I was trained for four years [2010-2013] as a teacher in an in service training program run by ECS/world relief South Sudan. But the diploma certificate was not issued due to South Sudan civil war. I have been a primary school teacher since 2002 to date. I completed my 3 years high school at Leer, Emma secondary school early 2012 where I obtained Sudan School Certificate. I am currently preparing to teach Uppernile Orphans Care Organization (UOCO), in Hand of Hope Community School. Before that, I worked for Welt Hunger Hilfe {WHH}-German Agro Action {GAA} as agriculture field officer -Nyal field office from 2017-2018. In 2017-2018, I Work with Rural Child Organization {RCO} as field coordinator for Southern area of unity state. In 2015-2016, I worked for Norwegian Refugee Council {NRC} as Education project Assistant officer-Leer County. In 2001-2012, I worked for World Health Organization {WHO} as team supervisor. In 2004-2006, I worked for Oxfam-GB as field supervisor for school clubs-Mayiandit County. In 2002-2003, I worked as Padeah primary school, deputy- head teacher-Mayiandit county. The reason on why I was interesting to volunteer for UOCO is to serve my community with the experience gained from both national and international organizations as well as from education training.

International Support Network 501(c)(3)


UOCO (USA) - President and Liaison

I am humbled and excited to be part of Tito’s dream of building a boarding school in Leer for war orphans and other vulnerable children. I met Tito in 2013 while volunteering there as an English teacher. There I became friends with six-year-old Khan, an orphan amputee, who was one of my youngest students. In escorting Khan to the local hospital for his routine stump bandage changes and visiting the other patients, I got to know the director of the field hospital, Tito. Tito is one of the kindest men I’ve ever met. He is a south Sudanese who shared his dream with me of helping children. His hope is coming to fruition with the founding of the Hand of Hope Community School. Tito and his wife Roda, with six kids of their own, welcomed Khan into their family when they fled the war. The circle widens. This project gives me hope. Please let me know of concerns or suggestions at warorphancaremary@gmail.com

Pastor Frank D Lewis Sr.
UOCO (USA) - Vice President

Hello everyone, this is Pastor Frank D Lewis Sr. I am the pastor of the Antioch Baptist Church in Madison Virginia for the past 38 years.  
I am extremely excited about being a part of this board. I have always wanted to contribute to Ministry in the African nations for some time now; this seems to be a great opportunity for me and I am willing to offer whatever suggestions that may be needed. I will also contribute financially when I can, and get my church to be a part of this ministry with its prayer and financial support.
May God’s blessings be upon us all in our future endeavors.
Post Script from Mary Grace: As pastor of my home church in Madison, Virginia, Reverend Lewis has facilitated the work I’ve done in South Sudan, and in Iraq. His Antioch Church has been the tax exempt recipient for donations to fund education for three refugee children (including Khan) since 2015.  

Megan L Coppage
UOCO (USA) - Social Media and Networking Coordinator

Megan has a heart for those in need. Her life-long desire has been to help those in the margins. Serving on the Board of UOCO provides just that opportunity. Megan was born and raised in Virginia and has many interests including photography and gardening – allowing her to see beauty in all things and all people. She is a paralegal and office manager, as well as a fitness instructor. These jobs allow her to connect, come alongside, encourage and assist those in need.
When Megan was asked to serve on the UOCO USA Board, she considered it true honor to serve alongside such dedicated and caring people who are determined to make a positive difference in the world abroad. She is excited to partner with others across the globe to provide hope, stability, love, shelter and an education to the sweet children in South Sudan. Life is short and investing in an endeavor that will outlive one, impact humanity as a whole – one child at a time, is the very definition of what it means to be fully human.

Minister Shirley Barbee
UOCO (USA) - Board Member & Prayer Warrior


Minister Barbee loves sharing the Gospel and living it out in her daily life. She takes her role as a board member seriously and has been a constant prayer support for the school, and an excellent advisor to UOCO. She also writes many of the donor thank you notes!

Alex Thomas UOCO (USA) - Board Member


Alex is from North Carolina, USA and joined UOCO during his time at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He supports the organization through his role as the Communications Manager, by helping with the technological aspects of UOCO. Alex is passionate about the work this organization does and loves working on new ways to help the children we serve. 

Scott Spaine (Fundraising Chair) & Yaneth Florez (Board Member)- UOCO (USA)



Yaneth Flores and Scott Spaine are a dynamic husband and wife team raising awareness and funds for UOCO. Scott is our fundraising chairperson; they are both remarkably compassionate and creatively conceived, they designed our annual bike-a-thon fundraising event. 


UOCO (USA) - Volunteer

MARY HELENE MELE set up our 501(c)(3) in the USA, which allows tax-deductible donations to our counterpart, the UpperNile Orphans Care Organization (UOCO) NGO. She took a class so she could do this work!

She writes, “I’m impressed by the many efforts which fly under the radar, of people helping people across barriers. I think it just might be possible to form a connection between war orphans in South Sudan and a few folk in the USA. I’ve seen it happen. I don’t really know how it happens, but let’s see where this adventure takes us.”

Continuing: “I am a 70-year-old grandmother who has lived in Bellingham, Washington since I was 50.  Prior to that I lived for multiple years each in Saudi Arabia, Germany, South Africa, Ghana, South Korea, Indonesia and Malaysia, as well as San Francisco and Washington, DC. My years in Africa sharpened my heart for the hungry and the children.”


Web hosting and development - Brazil

RAIOSS stands for Radiology & Artificial Intelligence One-Stop Shop and is a Brazilian Health Tech company that deals with medical imaging and teleradiology.
RAIOSS has the pro bono initiative of developing the current website and hosting it in one of its servers, as it’s core business is to use technology to save lives.