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Bol Abiar speaks to Longfellow Elementary students about the state of educational opportunities in South Sudan. Image courtesy of the Salida Circus.

Salida Circus and Colorado TINTS present Girls with Books! empowering South Sudanese Girls through education. Thursday evening in Salida and Friday evening in Buena Vista, Girls With Books! Executive Director Micklina Kenyi is the main speaker for the events. Kenyi and Doctor Lawrence, an educator from South Sudan, will showcase a PowerPoint presentation. Both events will include refreshments, circus entertainment, and African drumming and dance by River Tribe.

Micklina Kenyi. Image courtesy of the Salida Circus.

The Salida presentation will be at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 19 at A Church (419 D Street, Salida). Doors open at 6:00 p.m.

The Buena Vista presentation will be at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, October 20 at the Congregational United Church of Christ (217 Crossman Avenue, Buena Vista). Doors open at 6:00 p.m.

Girls With Books! is a nonprofit organization that was established in October 2022 by the merger of Empowerment Through Education (ETE) and Project Education South Sudan (PESS). The organization provides education for girls in the cities of Juba and Bor in South Sudan as well as those in refugee camps in northern Uganda.

Salida Circus Founder and Development Officer Jennifer Dempsey became involved with the organization in 2008 when she watched God Grew Tired of Us, a documentary about the lost children of Sudan.

After seeing that film, Dempsey made calls to see how she could be involved and eventually discovered Project Education South Sudan (PESS) in Denver. As Salida Circus Director, Dempsey brought them to Chaffee County for school presentations and fundraising events.

Salida Circus stilt walker Sarah Green at a fundraiser event. Image courtesy of the Salida Circus.

PESS became Girls With Books! through the merger but retained their mission to provide education.

“In the past thirteen years I’ve worked with this organization, I have met some of the most incredible, intelligent people,” said Dempsey. “The stories of the Lost Boys and Girls of Sudan are awe-inspiring. Its been a privilege to be involved in their mission of supporting girls’ education.”

The program serves both primary and secondary students with some post-graduation programs, such as computer skills and entrepreneurship.

The organization pays tuition and room and board for girls to attend private school. It also covers mentoring and training programs to promote academic success and prepare the girls for leadership. Program costs include uniforms, school supplies, and personal supplies, such as toiletries and feminine hygiene products.

More information on the program is available at