After fleeing conflict and finding hope through education – first as a student then a teacher – she is now a passionate advocate and storyteller who aims to amplify the voices of other refugees.
By UNHCR Staff | 08 March 2023
South Sudanese refugee Mary Maker has been appointed as UNHCR’s newest Goodwill Ambassador, pledging to amplify the voices of other forcibly displaced people and bring attention to their growing needs.
As a child, she fled conflict in South Sudan and found safety in Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. After overcoming obstacles to complete her high school studies in the country, she became a teacher to young refugees in Kakuma and a passionate advocate for their right to an education, especially for girls.
She is currently studying Theatre and Literature as part of a scholarship programme at a university in the United States. In conversation with UNHCR to mark her appointment, Mary Maker revealed what being a Goodwill Ambassador means to her and what she hopes to achieve in the years to come.
How do you feel about becoming a Goodwill Ambassador?
MM: Excited! I’ve been supporting UNHCR since 2018 and, as a refugee myself, have valued the opportunity to represent and speak up for other displaced people around the world. Now, as a Goodwill Ambassador, I can continue to use my voice and my personal experience to help raise awareness about the increasing needs of those displaced. As an actor, writer and director – a storyteller – and as an education advocate, I am both excited and honoured to be part of UNCHR’s Goodwill Ambassador family!
What were your first memories of UNHCR and why did you want to become an ambassador?
MM: I was forced to flee the civil war in Sudan when I was a child. It was when my family crossed into Kenya that I first saw UNHCR’s logo on big white trucks. I was so full of fear that initially I was unsure of whether that was a good or bad sign, but my mother said to us ‘I think help has come’. Once I better understood UNHCR’s role and their purpose, I knew that I wanted to support their work. I knew that I could help them – to help the millions of other refugees around the world who are in desperate need of support
What do you hope to achieve in your role as an Ambassador?
MM: To me, becoming a Goodwill Ambassador means ensuring that every refugee is seen, and we invest in their potential. I want displaced people to have a voice. I see myself as a storyteller and in my role as a Goodwill Ambassador, I aim to lift up those voices and help tell the stories of those who are unheard. I am passionate about education so I also want to support UNHCR in its efforts to ensure all displaced people can access a quality education.
UNHCR Goodwill Ambassadors and supporters are some of the most recognisable public faces of the organization, helping to bring its name and work to every corner of the world through their influence, dedication and hard work.
For more information about Mary Maker, visit her webpage: www.unhcr.org/mary-maker
Originally published by UNHCR on 08 March 2023.