Manute Bol School

Turalei, South Sudan

Manute's Commitment to his country and supporting education


There have been many things said and written about Manute Bol, who passed away June 19, 2010. Most focus on his nine-year career as the tallest player in the NBA-- but there was a much deeper side to the seven-foot-seven native of South Sudan. Manute often traveled back to his country to promote peace and reconciliation, especially in Darfur. Manute worked at his peril to help his country, friends and family before his untimely death at the age of 47. During Manute's final trip to Sudan, the government asked him to extend his stay to promote a corruption-free election process for the 2011 referendum on cessation.  Despite feeling unwell and being separated from needed medication, he agreed and remained in Sudan. Subsequently, Manute fell seriously ill before his return to the U.S., and ultimately passed away from a combination of kidney failure and Stevens-Johnson syndrome on June 19, 2010. 

As a young man, Manute had the opportunity to come to the U.S. to receive an education, and play basketball. Manute placed a high value on education, and firmly believed that one of the most important factors to peace in Sudan was providing education for its children. 

Manute's Promise to Build a School 

During a trip to Manute's home village of Turalei in January and February of 2008, he made a promise to the people of his community that he would help raise funds to build a school. At the time, there were more than 300 students and 20 teachers in the school near his neighborhood, but no schoolhouse. The children were taught beneath a tree to escape the heat, and when it rained, as it often does during the rainy season between May and October, there was no school. 

In January 2009, Manute delivered one compressed earth block press to Turalei and brought a team of Ugandan trainers to teach brick-making techniques to his community. At present, the construction of two school buildings with six classrooms, latrines, and a kitchen have been completed at the Manute Bol Turalei Primary School. Franklin Electric has installed a solar powered submersible water pump and water tower to provide a continuous clean water supply to the school, and school cooks prepare one meal daily for the children with food provided by the World Food Programme. 

Most Valuable Helper

By Nicholas D. Kristof :: Published: June 23, 2010

Sports stars often make headlines with spectacular misconduct, and they don’t use their celebrity enough to make the world a better place. But every now and then, along comes a star as gifted ethically as athletically — and I’m thinking now of one of the greatest basketball players ever. Read the full article »