At the age of 16, Khok is one of the youngest students at Werkok Freedom Secondary School (WFSS), but his name is one of the oldest. Khok is the grandson of the Khok (Kok) for which the community of Werkok is named. It was 1915 when grandfather Khok decided to do something about the need for water during the dry season. He started digging a hole to retain rainwater from the rainy season into the dry season. At the time, and for many decades to come, the resulting water hole was the only source of water for nearly half the year.
The water hole was such a success that people joined the effort and expanded the size of the hole to last the entire year and sustain a large community of animals and people. The presence of a year-round source of water caused the government to name Werkok as the center of the bouma and later as the county seat for Bor County (now Bor Center County).
While Khok is proud of his heritage, his family story looks very different today. Young Khok is among the 50% of WFSS students who have lost their father to the years of war in the country. To make matters even more challenging, his mother is mentally disabled and he has no close relative to help. As the only male child in the family, he knows that the future support of his mother will fall to him. A distant uncle sponsored Khok’s first term at WFSS in the hopes that another sponsor or a scholarship could be found for him in the future.
Khok didn’t begin the school year as a model student. He was frequently referred for disciplinary action and was found in the center of more than one altercation. He was undisciplined, uncooperative, stubborn and very emotional. In spite of all that, somehow he finished the term in the top 1/3 of the students. Then, at the beginning of term two, he volunteered for the student leader position of time-keeper.
At five weeks into the second term, we are beginning to see some growth in Khok. So far he has avoided disciplinary action, has cooperated with all school activities, and is learning how to function on his own at school. “I want to be in the top-ten this term,” said Khok when he came to ask for a light to do some night reading. Khok says that his favorite subjects include the arts, especially history. He’d like to study law in the future and hopes to make a name for himself that will live up to the one his grandfather gave him.