A well for fresh water and a children's school.

That's the dream John Akuar, a University of Arizona senior, has for the people in his hometown of Abul, Sudan. Akuar, one of the "Lost Boys of Sudan," calls his dream the School for Abul Project.

A festival Friday will help Akuar and the 2,000 people of Abul. UA professor Cindi Gilliland and student volunteers with the university's Arizona Refugee Connection are inviting the public to "Giveback Kickback," which will feature comedy shows and refugee dancers and musicians. There will also be arts, crafts, children's activities and entertainment booths. Several restaurants will have food and drink specials and donate a percentage of what they earn to the Abul Project.

Girls and women from Abul must walk five miles to access dirty water. Children attend school outdoors.

"I feel that those of us who live in America are very blessed, that we have a lot of resources and that there are many ways that we can make a big difference, both in our community and in the world," said Gilliland, founder of Arizona Refugee Connection and faculty advisor for the Eller College of Management. "Thanksgiving is coming up next week and it's a wonderful time to reflect on all we have to be thankful for and to reach out to others."

Ninety percent of Friday's earnings will go to the Abul project, Gilliland said, while 10 percent will be used to help refugees here.

The goal is to raise $50,000 through the sale of ownership stock certificates for the School for Abul in denominations of $5 to $1,000, as well as through bottled water sales and donations from restaurants.

Go online to azrefugeeconnection.org to learn more about the Arizona Refugee Connection and the School for Abul Project.

Contact reporter Patty Machelor at 806-7754 or pmachelor@azstarnet.com.