Lual Mayen is a South Sudanese activist, and the founder of Lual Mayen Foundation as well as Junub Games. As a former refugee, Lual fights for the rights of refugees and migrants. It is this work that accorded him the prestigious Mohamad Ali Humanitarian Award.
Junub Games aims to help teach children the importance of peace through video games. Lual Mayen foundation on the other hand was started with the purpose of empowering refugees through technology, education and employment.
The foundation currently runs a technology centre at the refugee camp in Uganda where Lual grew up.
Lual spent 22 years in the camp. His life changed when a friend introduced him to the world of video games. Lual fell in love with the medium and decided to create his own game.
His main objective was to entertain those living in the camp, but he soon realised that gaming could be a powerful tool to create empathy for refugees and bring social change.
Salaam was the name he gave his first mobile game. Salaam is an Arabic word that means peace. The game aims to put the player in the shoes of a refugee fleeing war.
Lual said that he wanted people to understand the journey of a refugee. He made the experience extremely personal to him to the extent of deriving inspiration from his mother to develop the main character of the game.
His mother played a huge role in his career. She invested money that she had saved for three years in buying a laptop for him. This is the laptop that allowed him to explore his passions and change the trajectory of his life.
Fond of his mother Lual has the following to say about her, “Looking back at my mother’s journey and the fact that she was able to work so hard for my family and find a place of refuge so we could have a life was a big motivation for me.
I believe in human talent. No matter who you are or where you live, no matter if you are a refugee or living in a well-developed country, we can all contribute something to the world. We all have a purpose; refugees have a purpose.
I love creating games and more than that, I love giving back to my community.”
On the 22nd of November 2022, Lual announced that he had been awarded the Muhamad Ali Humanitarian Award.
His words were as follows, “ I’m deeply honoured to be awarded Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award 2022 by Muhammad Ali Center. It is so inspiring to be awarded among great innovators and humanitarians including Dr Anthony Fauci.
Muhammad Ali never let his circumstances deter him from his path and to me, his grit, and willingness to do the work it takes to be the greatest has always been an inspiration of mine. Thank you to my family, friends and mentors who have supported me through this journey.”