Mary Maker

Through the craft of storytelling, Mary Maker shares her refugee journey to create a ripple effect of impact to develop a world of globally educated individuals that are empathetic and community driven


  • Education
  • Leadership
  • Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion
  • Motivation & Inspiration
  • Resilience
  • Women’s Empowerment


Through the craft of storytelling, Mary Maker creates a ripple effect with the hope to develop a world of globally educated individuals.

Getting to know

Mary Maker

South Sudanese refugee Mary Maker is a refugee education activist working with UNHCR, an actor, a fashion lover and a writer. After fleeing her war-torn country as a child, she found security and hope in attending school in Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. She has since become a teacher of young refugees in her community, and sees education as an essential tool for rebuilding lives and empowering a generation of girls who are too often denied entrance into the classroom. Mary is currently pursuing Theater as part of the MasterCard Foundation scholarship program at St. Olaf College Minnesota.

Mary has said: “For the child of war, an education can turn their tears of loss into a passion for peace”.

In 2018, Mary gave an impassioned speech at TEDxKakumaCamp entitled ‘Why I Fight for the Education of Refugee Girls (like me)’. In collaboration with UNHCR, she has gone on to advocate on behalf of refugees on multiple global platforms including Sky News and ABC News. Mary has spoken at international events including Global GoalsCast, the Girl Up Summit, and supported the launch of UNHCR’s annual Education Report. This year, Mary wrote the educational report alongside Lewis Hamilton. She has been featured in social media films and briefings outlining the importance of education. Through highlighting her own personal story, she points out the resilience, talents, and ambitions of the forcibly displaced. She is playing an active role, in not only the response to the global refugee crisis, but also to the global coronavirus pandemic.

In 2021- Mary Started a non-profit, Elimisha Kakuma, a Swahili word for Educate Kakuma. Within one year, Mary and her team have been able to partner with Virginia Tech, UNHCR and Duolingo from where Elimisha was awarded Best of Student Advocacy.

In her spare time Mary enjoys creating new plays, devising new stories, and researching on ancient stories in the African continent.


To help you promote your event with Mary, CAMPUSPEAK has created promotional templates you can use. In this folder, you will find resources for social media, a promotional poster for printing, and press photos you can use for your event.
Link to Promotional Materials.


Below you will find logistical resources for the day of your event with Mary.
In-Person Event AV needs (PDF)
Speaking introduction (PDF)

Connect with Mary
Repost from @campuspeak
🎤CAMPUSPEAK Welcomes Mary Maker🎤
Mary Maker is a South Sudanese refugee education activist. After fleeing her war-torn country as a child, she found security and hope in attending school in Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. She has since become a teacher of young refugees in her community, and sees education as an essential tool for rebuilding lives and empowering a generation of girls who are too often denied entrance into the classroom.

With programs rooted in storytelling on the power of education, women's leadership, and resilience, CAMPUSPEAK is excited to see the IMPACT Mary will make.

Learn more about Mary at
Repost from @australiaforunhcr
Winter is coming and winters in #Ukraine are harsh and extremely cold. Follow us to learn how you can help. #winter #withrefugees
Repost from @refugees
When I visited South Sudan with @Refugees, I saw first-hand just how badly the impacts of climate change are displacing people: from one extreme of drought, to rains and flooding.

#COP27 needs to keep forcibly displaced people in mind. Don’t forget about South Sudan.

#ClimateChange @lakers @nba #NBA
Am so proud to see you talk about this openly, it’s something we’ve struggled with as a family and you’ve always been so strong.
Repost from @ladiesofsosa
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder in which nerve cell activity in the brain is disturbed causing seizures. Today, over 70 million people have epilepsy in the world, these numbers show a possibility that 2 out of 26 people have epilepsy. There are various types of epilepsy and Nodding syndrome is only one of the many types of epilepsies experienced majorly in South Sudan. 

This form of epilepsy is observed in villages of South Sudan close to rapidly flowing rivers where blackflies put their eggs. This kind of epilepsy is also called ‘River Epilepsy.’ With a vast South Sudan covered by rivers and swamps, this has become rampant, especially in Maridi County, Western Equatoria. 1 or 2 members of a family in 10 households have epilepsy in this area.

With the disorder having unique characteristics such as seizures, misconceptions about the cause and treatment of epilepsy have been identified. Most people in South Sudan believe that epilepsy is contagious and caused by evil spirits. This has restricted persons with epilepsy in their day-to-day activities and children with epilepsy are denied going to school. They are also stigmatized and seen as unfit for marriage.

With the country having poor medical services and the average best concentrated in towns, those in rural areas have suffered a lot. They have no access to medication making the mortality rate in this area very high- a situation that can be controlled in this modern day. 
What awareness do you have of epilepsy? 

Writer and correspondent: @azile_shushu_joel 
Thank you for your bravery and using your voice for a great cause in brining awareness to Epilepsy!
#epilepsyawareness #epilepsy #epilepsyawarenessmonth #southsudan #sudan
Repost from @refugees
The climate crisis is a human crisis. #COP27
This is an emergency.

Without immediate support, cuts to critical, lifesaving services to protect displaced people everywhere are coming. Please, if you are able, do what you can to support @Refugees. You can donate by heading to the link in my bio.
It is disheartening to see South Sudan in this state, currently 2/3 Of the country flooded, close to a million people directly impacted. This is an aerial shot of Bentiu turned to an island. The state is making it hard for humanitarian efforts to prevail as to maneuver, boats and airstrips now serve as lifelines for any aid coming in. Let’s help South Sudan. For more check link on bio @refugees @
Having nolstagic moments to this video. Follow Spencerandcj on Spotify
Repost from @katgraham
Telling women what we can and cannot wear or do is unacceptable. I’m over women feeling oppressed wherever we live, be it in Iran, the United States and anywhere in between. I’m over people trying to dictate what, as women, we should and shouldn’t do with our bodies. I’m sending love and strength to all the women (and allies out there) who are saying ENOUGH IS ENOUGH and are putting their lives at risk to fight for justice and equality. And for my LGBTQ  family in Italy and across the globe, I stand with you. Stay strong. We got this.

Music: Intro to my album Long Hot Summer.
Narrated by Alissah Nguyen 
Edited by Alessio Filippelli
Repost from @refugees
Leave nobody behind.⁣
That's what refugee and education advocate @marymaker_43 is fighting for: that national education systems must never ignore refugee students.⁣
There is no shortage of demand when it comes to a thirst for knowledge and a hunger for education among young refugees. And even more importantly, there is no shortage of talent. However, there is a shortage of opportunities for young refugees, especially where education is concerned.⁣
For many refugees, education is a lifeline that holds the promise of a brighter and safer future; however, access to quality education is often filled with barriers and obstacles for people who have been forcibly displaced. From policies preventing refugee enrolment in national education systems, to refugees unable to produce sufficient documentation, the journey to education can be a long and arduous one for young refugees.⁣
Mary Maker is committed to putting her passion to practice so that young refugees do not have to face the same barriers to education that she once did.⁣
We stand with Mary, because access to a quality education is a human right.⁣
#LetMeLearn #RightToLearn #EducationSummit #Education #UNGA
Repost from @elimisha_kakuma
Education is a crucial tool in improving the lives of refugees. Having a safe space for students to achieve this is similarly important. Elimisha Kakuma with the blessing of our donors Molly and Ricky Cox has been able to achieve this. With connected electricity and a number of books, this center in Hong Kong, Kakuma is a new dawn for the students who have constantly desired academic support. This new dawn for then means not sitting under trees or open spaces with harsh environmental conditions to interact with their books. Swipe to see more pictures.  Please checkout our website and donate. Link is in our bio!  @marymaker_43 @diing_lual @deirdrehand @sanitwins_ @najax_siciid


A Journey Less Taken

Mary Maker’s journey has taken many paths, from South Sudan to the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya to work towards getting an education in the United States. Through powerful stories, Mary shares the challenges of integrating into her new world as her mother and her move from one country to another, learning new languages, the uncertainty of finding a home, and coming to terms with the new title, “the refugee.”

Throughout Mary’s journey, she learned the importance of education. Mary started a school to teach other women at her camp in hopes it would give her and others the persistence to succeed.

Learning Outcomes

As a result of attending the program, students will learn:

  • the art of resilient and perseverance in education,
  • how to give back to communities- the importance and fulfillment that comes with it, and
  • how to lead.
To Be Woman

Mary Maker’s mother found herself forced into marriage at the age of 13 in 1992. Working through the realities of the community she was born into, Mary struggled to set a new tone for herself and the generations to come. With her mother condemned and shunned by the community, Mary learned to develop her voice, which her mother taught her yet couldn’t do.

After watching her mother try to please a community that does not see her as a woman enough unless she gives birth to a girl, Mary decided to start defying the community by teaching girls to set new expectations in the community. From teaching sex ed in the refugee camp, a taboo in her community, Mary ventures into theater, music, and dance, a profession is seen to be problematic. In this program, Mary will also talk about the challenges she faced growing up being a girl and the intersectionality of being a refugee, South Sudanese, and a woman. She started to redefine womanhood for herself and how she lives by her norms.

Learning Outcomes

As a result of attending the program, students will learn:

  • how to stay grounded,
  • how to set new expectations with self and being true to oneself,
  • how to shift away from norms, and
  • how to find one’s voice

Mary has been moving her whole life. The feeling of being new has shaped her life. Learning an art of adjustment became a core part of her life. As a child Mary had to learn the art of diplomacy, how to scan her environment, and know how she can succeed within that environment. In this program Mary will cut across different stories from which she had to readjust. Coming to the refugee camp, going to boarding school, and studying in Uganda, Rwanda, where the language was completely new. Being a theater lover yet never having taken a theater class before. How she had to learn American theater, finding new family among loss of her own and the journeys she had to take to readjust.

Learning Outcomes

As a result of attending this program, students will learn:

  • how to seek help in new environments,
  • the art of diplomacy, and
  • how to modify oneself in new environments.