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After coronovirus restrictions are lifted, Buay Riek plans to see his family in Ethiopia again after a 21 year absence.



MIU student film to document Ethiopian student's reunion with family
by Maharishi International University, Fairfield, Iowa, USA, Achievements
18 May 2020

The family of Maharishi International University (MIU) student Buay Riek escaped the war in South Sudan by going to a rural village in Ethiopia, where he was born. The ongoing conflict separated his family, and at the age of 7, he emigrated to the U.S. with some relatives. That was the last time he saw his family—21 years ago.

In April he will travel to Ethiopia to reunite with his family, a reunion that student Nina Ziv will be on hand to film as part of her documentary about the fascinating life Buay has led and the challenges he’s faced.

He has long dreamed of reuniting with his family but couldn’t afford the trip. Now, thanks to a GoFundMe campaign, he booked a ticket last month.

“It’s a reunion I’ve been waiting a long time for,” he said.

Ms. Ziv and Ethiopian staff member Nahom Abegaze, who is producing the film, are also currently fundraising to support their trip to Ethiopia and equipment rental.

The trip Buay and the filmmakers are planning won’t be without challenges. The two-day journey by minibus from Addis Ababa to the Gambella region in western Ethiopia will take approximately 14 hours—if they’re lucky. Journeying to remote areas often presents unforeseen conditions, such as undeveloped roads, floods, and civil disruptions.

Leaving his village at age 4

Buay’s journey to the U.S. began in 1995 at age 4, when his village chose one child from each household to attempt refugee status. Over the next two years he, some cousins, and his aunt braved the continued fighting in the region and made their way to Addis Ababa, spending time in a refugee camp. Although many are refused refugee status, his group was accepted by the United Nations Refugee Agency on their first try.

At age 7 Buay and his relatives arrived in the U.S. and were settled in Omaha, Nebraska. But because his aunt didn’t speak English and relied on manual labor, over the years they moved around the country to various communities of the 100,000 Sudanese refugees in the U.S., including Colorado Springs.

It was a difficult time. He fell behind in school and got in trouble. But a move to Seattle for his high school years enabled a new beginning. He caught up with his class, did well, and then attended community college.

Finding Maharishi on YouTube

But he felt something was missing in education and began researching on the internet.

“I came across videos of Maharishi on YouTube and felt he was a wise man. I then started getting into physics and watched videos of John Hagelin. I began to understand that everything is connected.”

In February of 2014 he began looking for a school to attend after finishing community college. He came home one evening, did a Google search for “Consciousness-Based education,” and learned about MIU. He signed up for a Visitors Weekend and realized this is what he had been looking for.

Enrolling at MIU

He enrolled in the fall of 2014 and graduated with a degree in Maharishi Vedic Science in 2018. He learned the TM-Sidhi program in 2015. After he finished his course work in December of 2017 he spent six months in Chicago working with students involved in the Quiet Time program, including ensuring their comfortable practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique by taking them through the standard checking procedure.

In February 2019 he enrolled in the online MS in Maharishi AyurVeda and Integrative Medicine.

A vision of healing

“My goal is to open clinics throughout the world, including South Sudan,” Buay said. “I want to start healing people through Maharishi AyurVeda, Transcendental Meditation, and the many other approaches. The world is in dire need. This very precious knowledge is meant for all of humankind.” He also hopes to be the first South Sudanese Transcendental Meditation teacher.

A documentary with a purpose

Buay and the filmmakers feel that the importance of the documentary will go beyond Buay’s personal story, as it will also explore the challenges faced by refugees, both economically and culturally.

“A lot of kids aren’t able to go back to see their family,” Buay says. “I can be a voice for them.”

Ms. Ziv said she began filming Buay as part of her assignments in the media department.

“I knew his story and of course it deeply touched my heart,” she said. “Each block I added some more footage and did some more editing. Last May my teachers helped me realize that I should keep going with that story and follow Buay on his journey to meet his family.”

On their fundraising page, the filmmakers talk about Buay’s “positive, loving, heartfelt outlook on life and on his lived experience. We feel that sharing this experience from his point of view is hopeful, warming, and healing.”

Ms. Ziv, who is doing an individualized major in media and sustainability, expects the film to be around 30–50 minutes and has done about 60% of the filming, including in Fairfield, in Omaha, and in Des Moines at Buay’s citizenship ceremony. She hopes to have a presentable version by her June graduation.

“The film deals with many layers and meaning of being a refugee, such as the history, the different generations and their world views, the challenges, and the connections among their community,” she said. “All of that is told through Buay, his personal experience and story, as well as through the experiences of his family members.”

Fundraising campaigns

So far the team’s fundraising campaigns have successfully supported airline tickets, with more needed to fund expenses such as travel within Ethiopia, lodging, and meals.

The Indiegogo campaign can be found at igg.me/at/buaysdocumentary.

The website is at www.buaydocumentary.com. announces:

"After numerous meetings with all involved stakeholders, Buay and the film crew were strongly advised by MIU personnel to postpone production in Ethiopia amid concerns over the COVID 19 pandemic. Additionally, "the Ethiopian Government has decided to quarantine all arriving passengers entering Ethiopia for 14 days at the expense of the passengers."


© Copyright 2020 Maharishi International University


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