Born into war. Grown into a leader.
This tall, handsome, well spoken student from South Sudan speaks four languages and is set to change the world around him. This is James ‘Rainmaker’ Thuch Madier.
I first met James at an informal UNCANTO [United Nations Association in Canada Toronto Region] event on National Aboriginal Day at City Hall. We watched a telling film about the colonization of Aboriginals in our country and how their children were ripped from their families and placed in Residential Catholic Schools where their culture, language and innocence was ripped from each and every one of them. The film was dated but the story is still relevant 150 years later. While James is neither Aboriginal nor Canadian his story is relevant; being born into a war stricken South Sudan, finding his way through high school, volunteering inside refugee camps in Kenya, learning several languages and finding his way to Canada to continue his education while launching an incredible foundation
Who is James Thuch Madhier?
James Thuch Madhier is a social Entrepreneur, an advocate, a humanitarian and an avid dancer for fun.
What do you do for a living?
I am currently a student, pursuing a degree in Peace, Conflict and Justice at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto.
Where did you grow up and where else have you lived over the years?
I grew up in Tonj, South Sudan. At about age 15, I moved to Uganda and then to Kenya where I lived, studied and worked before relocating to Toronto, Canada.
How did you get into humanitarian work? What kept you interested and involved?
Upon completion of high school in Kenya, I did not have an opportunity to go to university due to lack of opportunities for higher learning for refugees. So, I decided to give back to the communities in the refugee camp. I got hired by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees as a humanitarian field interpreter. Then I went on to work with Windle Trust International on girl child education program. Both tasks were highly demanding in terms of the human struggle one is faced with daily. What kept me going was the believe that I was part of a solution. If I didn’t get involve I would have been doing nothing. I thought it was better doing something than nothing.
What is Rainmaker Enterprise?
Rainmaker Enterprise is an award-winning climate adaptive social venture committed to combating deforestation, food insecurity, water scarcity, chronic poverty, women and youth unemployment among other cross-sectional issues in rural South Sudan through provision of clean water using clean solar-energy. It aims to install solar-powered water pumps and drip irrigation systems across the villages in South Sudan to foster an inclusive and sustainable development, which puts into consideration environmental protection by establishing strong measures of afforestation programs and environmental friendly fuels for cooking. South Sudan is a young country and is least prepared to deal with the harmful impacts of climate change. For the last 4 years, rainfall has become extremely erratic and communities have been faced with destructive flooding that often destroys crops, maims lives and displaces people. This venture will enable farmers and livestock keepers to engage in year-round agricultural activities while encouraging communities in tree planting exercises, educating them about environmental protection and advocating for national, regional and international environmental protection measures.
Why did you start this initiative?
I started this Initiative mainly to address systemic issues that I believe would never be addressed effectively by relief aid in South Sudan and generally across Africa. I think the people affected by annual extreme hunger and poverty need the agency to take care of their own problems. This drove me to start this initiative.
What have been some of your biggest challenges in life and how have you overcome them?
My whole life has been a life of insurmountable challenges, such as being born into war, fleeing my home country to a refugee camp and finally leaving my home continent for an unknown part of the world, Canada where I knew very limited number of people. My living principle is simple. I smile at my problems. I believe this is an approach adopted by most humans faced with big challenges. It is a belief that anything that does not kill you, makes you stronger. I am resilient and forward looking and this saves me in time of crisis. My life challenges have also enabled me to be bold. To walk into anything knowing that there is no challenge bigger than the previous ones I have been in. And this is how I challenged myself to start Rainmaker Enterprise though I knew it is not easy to start anything from scratch.
Four languages, public speaking and countless volunteer work…where does your drive and interest come from?
I love languages. I immerse myself a lot wherever I go to learn a new language. Apart from other beauties of knowing multiple languages, being able to listen to music of other languages is an amazing experience. As for my involvements with public speaking before thousands of people and volunteering countless hours on causes, I am driven by desire for social change. As someone who has seen the brunt of the other side of social injustice and human suffering, I feel duty-bound to act proactively in changing lives and challenging systems that repress people.
What celebrities and political leaders have you met? Which ones are you hoping to work with and why?
I have met with political leaders from the European Union through my role as a selected young leader by the European Commission, some African Union leaders, some National Canadian ministers and United Nations leaders. Now, I am working with the ambassador of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of South Sudan to the United Nations on Rainmaker Enterprise. I am hoping to work with Lt. General Romeo Dallaire, founder of Romeo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative on prevention of the use of child soldiers in South Sudan and with the Permanent Representative of United Nations Industrial Organization to the EU on agribusiness and environmental protection through Rainmaker Enterprise.
Where is home for you?
At this point, I would like to think of myself as a nomad but for now, home is Toronto.
What makes Toronto great and where do you plan to go next?
I think Toronto is a great city because it is exquisite, open, convenient and culturally diverse. Unlike other big cities, Toronto is quite accessible and there are pockets of nice neighbourhoods and parks to discover every day. Additionally, I think Toronto is a great city for the people it has afforded me. It is an incredibly diverse city. It feels great to see the world in one place. I don’t have concrete plans of where I am moving to next but I have New York City or London in mind for graduate school. For now, I will be splitting my time between Toronto and South Sudan for Rainmaker Enterprise.