From Civil War Refugee To Olympic Competitor And Air Force Serviceman

The world sometimes can seem as though it's working against us. In those moments it may seem harder to get up and do something good -- something worthwhile and effective. But everyone endures different battles, some of which more unbelievable than others.

South Sudan was a place of turmoil from 1983 to 2005, years in which anyone would likely not want to inhabit the area. But imagine being born into the war and conflict! That's the reality Guor Maker had to live. Born in South Sudan and raised as a child in the heat of the civil war.

Loss At A Young Age

As the civil war raged on, Maker's family, like many others, was taking the brunt of the impact - loss of life, itself. A devastating 28 members of Guor's family were killed in the midst of the war, including 8 of his 9 siblings. Still, at 8 years old, Maker had no other choice but to do what he could to survive...

A Long Journey

Maker decided it was time to escape, as he had little reason to stay and live with death and heartache any longer. So he set out on the journey of a lifetime, just 8 years old and traveling hundreds of miles from South Sudan to Sudan's capital of Khartoum to live with his uncle.

Journey Cut Short

While in the midst of his travels, Maker was caught and held captive by Sudanese soldiers. During his time in captivity, he was forced to do slave labor which entailed just about anything the soldiers needed before being put back into a small cell. Maker said other than chores, he was kept in the small confines of his cell and rarely got to eat, let alone live a comfortable life...

Hard Times And Desperate Measures

Maker finally found a way to escape from the Sudanese soldier's containment - only to be captured again. This time he was held hostage by herdsmen who utilized him for slave labor. After months of continual escape and capture, Maker finally found himself on a journey to his final destination...

Khartoum On The Horizon

Despite a discouraging three year journey in which Maker endured capture and enslavement multiple times, he finally found his way to Khartoum. The comfort of family and his uncle's home far from that of the southern Sudanese civil war brought Maker the safety he needed, or so he thought. In a sudden attack overnight, Maker had his jaw smashed by the rifle of a soldier and couldn't even open his mouth for months.

To Egypt, And The United States

Maker's uncle finally decided to seek a better life for his family, and so they fled to Egypt originally. There, Maker's broken jaw was treated by the UN before his family made the decision to seek refuge in the United States, thus beginning the long and agonizing process of applying for citizenship.

A Flourishing Education

Despite years of battling to stay alive, Maker had managed to continue his education once in Egypt. By the time he had arrived in the United States, he was in high school and ready to learn. When it came time for college, though, Maker's talent in track and field earned him a scholarship to Iowa State University. The same legs that saved him from a life of despair now earned him a place in a huge university...

The 2012 Olympic Games

After earning his Bachelors degree in Chemistry, it was off to Arizona to train for the 2012 Olympic Games. On the very same day that Maker left for Flagstaff, Arizona, South Sudan had won its independence after a long and bloody civil war. Maker said he celebrated such a touching victory for his home country on the entirety of his trip.

The Greatest Victory Of Them All

In 2016, Guor Maker became the official flagbearer for South Sudan upon attaining their independence. Still, Maker made a heartfelt statement thanking the United States for their support and the ability to help Maker and his surviving family members live a life of prosperity and success. Maker continues to give back by helping his home country and even serves in the United States Air Force.