Mary Maker


South Sudanese refugee Mary Maker is a refugee education activist working with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (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.  In 2018, Mary gave an impassioned speech at TEDxKakumaCamp entitled ‘Why I Fight for the Education of Refugee Girls (like me)’. In collaboration with the UNHCR, she has advocated on behalf of refugees on multiple global platforms, including Sky News and ABC News. Mary has spoken at international events, including Global GoalsCast, and 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. By highlighting her own personal story, she points out the resilience, talents, and ambitions of the forcibly displaced. She is playing an active role in response to the global refugee crisis and 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 2023, she was appointed a Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR.