Posted: January 26, 2009
by Mark Hayward
A Manchester resident for eight years, Philip Aguot knows how to get around the city, tackle business classes at Southern New Hampshire University and head up a non-profit organization.
What he struggles with is how to take a vacation. Aguot, 33, said he spends his time either working as a contract clerk at Insight Technologies in Londonderry, studying, or running the Southern Sudan Community of New Hampshire.
To him a day off means a couple of hours at Hampton Beach, then a return to Manchester.
"I go to school, I work; I can do for myself," Aguot said. "I look to people who are in need. They can't do for themselves. I say, 'Why can't I help these people?' "
Help them he does. He is in his second two-year term as president of the Southern Sudan group. The organization provides English language learning, interpretation services, health advice, computer training, domestic violence prevention and cultural awareness lessons for Sudanese who are new to the United States.
Aguot moved to Manchester from The Sudan in 2001 and became a citizen in 2007. That year, the state counted a minimum of 556 Sudanese residents; Manchester alone has more than 400 Sudanese, Aguot said.
Most of them come to his organization for services. They range from computer classes to learning that Americans expect people to look them in the eye, a sign of disrespect in The Sudan.
Aguot said he wants to see more contact between Sudanese and the Manchester community. He also would like to see more Sudanese own their own property.
Meanwhile, his biggest priority now is to find continued funding for his organization. Grants from Endowment for Health and the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation helped pay the rent for the Coalition of African Organizations offices at 510 Chestnut St.
The funding will be up by March 15.
"From there, we don't know where we're going," he said.
Birthplace: Aweil, Sudan
Family: separated from the rest of family by Civil War between Southern Sudan and Northern Sudan, admitted to U.S. as a refugee, majority of Sudanese here in New Hampshire. Family in Sudan, Africa
High school: Saint Augustine Secondary School
College/post grad degrees: Business administration, concentrating on business studies, BS, BST, BAD. Earned degree, associate of science in business management, NHCTC-Manchester, 2007
Current job: Contracts clerk, Insight Technology Inc., Londonderry
Volunteer activities: President, Southern Sudan Community of New Hampshire
Most admired person (outside of my family): Ann Fried Mann, counselor; Marion Knedler, director of Center for Academic Planning and Support (CAPS); Regina Moore, CAPS assistant technician/teacher assistant; Meg Ham, counselor; Kathleen Hoben, adviser; Michline West , adviser, NHCTC-Manchester
Two peers who know you well: Nasir Arush and Daniel Wani
Biggest problem facing New Hampshire: Helping refugees to become self-sufficient
Favorite place in New Hampshire: Manchester and Concord
What books are you reading? “Health Matters” by Dr. P.H. Michele Yehlieli, and Mark A. Grey, Ph.D. pocket guide for working with diverse cultures, and underserved populations; “Moments in Leadership” by Barabara DeBuono et. Case studies in public health policy and practice
How do you relax? Never relax, busy with work and school and serving community
Favorite TV show, radio station or musical artist: NHPR