Emmanuel Jal was born in Southern Sudan, and spent the early years of his childhood in the midst of its long running civil war. At the age of 7, after the death of his mother, he was recruited as a child soldier for the Rebel army (SPLA).
Amazingly, he survived front line action and eventually managed to escape with 300 other "lost boys", enduring a 3 month trek on foot without any supplies to reach safety. One of only a handful to survive the journey, Emmanuel was rescued by Emma McCune, a British Aid Worker, who smuggled him to freedom in Kenya and enrolled him in school for the first time.
Tragically, Emma died shortly afterwards in a car accident. Over time Emmanuel began to find healing through the church and through music. Some fifteen years later Emmanuel is now a world famous recording artist with a Number 1 record under his belt. On 27th June 2008 he performed at Hyde Park at the 90th birthday concert for Nelson Mandela and in August 2009 he spoke at the TED Global Conference in Oxford, a video of which can be found below.
Throughout all this, Emmanuel has worked tirelessly with the United Nations, Amnesty International and Oxfam to campaign against the employment of child soldiers and the illegal trade of arms.
His work with Gua Africa remains his overriding passion. This was demonstrated by his decision to eat only one meal a day for 662 days as part of his Lose to Win campaign until we had raised the money for the primary school phase of our Emma Academy Project.