At the tender age of three, Manyang lost his father, uncle, and his home to the Sudanese Civil War, which also separated him from his mother. At that instant, Manyang became a refugee of the war, amongst the other 20,000 displaced and orphaned “lost boys of Sudan.” For 13 years, Manyang became accustomed to living in refugee camps along the border of Ethiopia and Sudan. Stability was nonexistent, nothing was guaranteed. By good fortune, Manyang was brought to the US at age 17 where he learned English and pursued a college degree. Throughout this time, he tried to reconnect with his mother by writing her letters through the American Red Cross. Over the course of many years, Manyang wrote around 220 letters, and finally, the American Red Cross and the ICRC were able to find his uncle, who then passed on the message to his mother. Eventually, Manyang was able to physically reconnect with his mother back in Sudan.
While his life had taken a turn for the better, he could not ignore the continuing crises faced by the people of Sudan. In 2008, he formed Humanity Helping Sudan to help elevate Sudanese refugees from poverty by teaching them vocational skills that will make them self-sufficient. Through this organization, Manyang has been a guest speaker for several summits including the United Nations’ NEXUS Global Youth Summit in New York City and at the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In August 2012, the VH1 Do Something Award Show honored Manyang as one of the best world-changers, 25 and under. Additionally, celebrities including Beyoncé Knowles, Ben Affleck, Alek Wek, and Anderson Cooper have recognized him for his humanitarian work.
Manyang has also continued his ties with the American Red Cross, volunteering with the Restoring Family Links program. As an RFL Advocate he works to promote reconnecting family services in refugee communities across the US. In the video below Manyang discusses what it was like to be reconnected with his mother and shares his dedication to the RFL program.