Friday, March 28, 2008

Congratulations to Ruth Lomo of Memphis, Tennessee

Ms. Ruth Lomo will be honored Sunday at the 24th Women of Achievement Awards Celebration in Memphis, Tennessee for her work with the the International Community of Refugee Women and Children.

RWN is quite proud of Ms. Lomo, a refugee from Sudan, and a graduate of our Leadership Training program and we extend our congratulations to her.

An article about Ms. Lomo and the award celebration can be seen at and is copied below.

2008 awards celebrate inspirational and highly accomplished local women
By Fredric Koeppel
Thursday, March 27, 2008

When Ruth Lomo arrived in Memphis in 2001, she brought her five children, the six children of her dead sisters, another orphan not related to her family and the skills in carpentry she used in refugee camps after she fled in 1990 from Sudan, her native country.

Struggling with the language and to make a living, learning the ins-and-outs of life in an alien culture and the mysteries of navigating her children's schools -- and watching the families of other refugee single mothers confront the same problems -- inspired Lomo to create the International Community of Refugee Women and Children in 2003.

The organization has been centered since October 2007 at the Memphis Leadership Foundation, a nondenominational ministry aimed at improving the lives of urban children and their families. Lomo's program provides after-school tutoring to help refugee children with their homework, offers classes in English for adults and aid in coping with the procedures and traditions of a strange country.

For that effort, Lomo is one of seven women who will be honored Sunday at the 24th Women of Achievement Awards Celebration. The category of Lomo's award is Initiative, "for a woman who seized the opportunity to use her talents and created her own future."

Howard Eddings, president of the Memphis Leadership Foundation, where the Refugee Empowerment Program is an umbrella organization for several refugee programs, praised Lomo's dedication and selflessness.

"I think her passion for the work she's doing, and the compassion for the people she serves really speak volumes for what she has accomplished with few resources," said Eddings. "She really desires for each person she comes in contact with to take care of themselves and yet be able to take advantage of all the opportunities available here."

The Women of Achievement Awards 2008 will be held at the Holiday Inn-University of Memphis, 3700 Central, beginning with a buffet reception at 4 p.m. Tickets are $20; deadline for reservations is Friday. Call 458-6701 for more information or to purchase tickets.
This year's awards are dedicated to Wanda Martin, president of Women of Achievement Inc. from 1999 to 2001, who died Dec. 2, 2007.

The other categories and winners of the 2008 Women of Achievements Awards are:
Heritage, "for a woman of generations past whose achievements still enrich our lives" -- Florence McIntyre (1879-1963), first director of Brooks Memorial Art Gallery, head of the Free Art School and longtime local art teacher.

Steadfastness, "for a woman with a lifetime of achievement" -- Carolyn Gates, 17-year Shelby County commissioner, first woman to serve as chair of the County Commission, founding member of the Salvation Army Auxiliary and Dogwood Village (now Youth Villages).

Determination, "for a woman who solved a glaring problem despite widespread inertia, apathy or ignorance around her" -- Rebecca Jane Edwards, founder of the Cultural Development Foundation of Memphis, dedicated to expanding diversity in artistic performance and audience, particularly for low- and moderate-income communities.

Courage, "for a woman who, facing active opposition, backed an unpopular cause in which she deeply believed" -- Corinne Derenburger, founder of Ryan's Hope for Family and Friends, an organization that provides support for families with children who have severe physical and mental disabilities.

Heroism, "for a woman whose heroic spirit was tested and shown as a model to all in Shelby County and beyond" -- Ashley Sanders, who at the age of 18, in March 2007, saved the life of a woman who had been shot in the back during a carjacking.

Vision, "for a woman whose sensitivity to women's needs led her to tremendous achievements for women" -- Dr. Phyllis Betts, director of the Center for Community Building and Neighborhood Action and associate director of the Center for Research on Women at the University of Memphis and a founder of the Memphis Area Women's Council.

Lomo and her family lived in refugee camps in Zaire, Uganda and Kenya. Christians from the south of Sudan, they fled the war-torn country after Islamic rebels attacked their town.
"You're only supposed to stay in the refugee camps temporarily," Lomo, 38, said this week, sitting in the living room of her apartment on North Highland.

"If there is no peace, the U.N. screens cases to see why people cannot go back to their country. We came to Memphis through the Catholic Charities organization."

Lomo acquired leadership skills early in life. In Sudan, she worked for a women's self-help program. Trained as a carpenter, she ran a workshop teaching women carpentry skills so they could support themselves. In the refugee camp in Kenya, she was elected as the leader of her group.

In Memphis, she said, "I had to struggle helping my children with their homework. We, as refugee parents, cannot give our children the kind of support that American parents can give. I got tutors for my children through Second Presbyterian Church, and in my heart I thought, 'Why can't I share this with other refugee children?' " Lomo's children range from 8 to 19, with the oldest now at Christian Brothers University. The others attend Evangelical Christian School.
Thus, Lomo started the after-school program with 12 children at Leawood Baptist Church. Five years later, the program helps 160 to 170 refugee students, holding two sessions between 3 and 7 p.m., Monday through Thursday. There is now a full-time staff with a program director and an educational specialist. Memphis Leadership Foundation provides the space and fund-raising support.

Since its first celebration, Women of Achievement Awards have gone to nearly 150 recipients. For information, visit

1 comment:

Samson William said...

This is an amazing story, first of all congratulaions to all the womens who have recieved awards for such great work and dedication to women's and children improvement in their community. I love stories that show great womens who want nothing more than to provide the best for their children's,friends,family and communitys future. Congratulations Ruth Lomo your a great role model to the sudanese community and most importantly to the kids and your family.