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FILE - Chol Majok is seen with a primary election campaign sign in a photo from his Facebook campaign page.

He was once called a Lost Boy but today, his official title is Councilor-Elect.

Chol Majok won the 3rd District Common Council seat in Syracuse, New York, this week, becoming the first former refugee in city history to do so, according to Onondaga County’s Board of Elections.

“One of the things that I am certain about is when you are not at the table where policy and decisions are being made, you are not counted, you are not part of that narrative,” said Majok.

Majok arrived in Syracuse 18 years ago with other Lost Boys of Sudan -- a group of 20,000 boys who were displaced or orphaned during the second Sudanese civil war in which about 2 million were killed. He was 16 years old and anxious to begin building his life.

He lived in foster homes until he turned 18, and although he was there for just two years, he says the conditions he experienced in the system changed his life.

“They are conditions that people in a first world country should not be in. So coupled with where I came from and what I saw, I just wanted something different,” he said.

Chol Majok is pictured with his wife and children in a photo from his Facebook campaign page.

Syracuse’s poverty rate is among the highest in the United States. About 32.6% of the population lives below the poverty line, according the latest figures by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Crime, gun violence and high poverty rates once again became part of his reality in his newly adopted country.

“As somebody that came from that conditions you ask yourself, what is going on here. It seems like everywhere I go there is this poverty that never separates from me and its only right to say you know what I can’t just stand by and watch, let me try to be part of the solution,” said Majok.

Majok’s mother died when he was 2 years old. His father, who died during the war, fought for the Sudan People's Liberation Army which was originally founded as a guerrilla movement against the government of Sudan in 1983 and was a key participant in the war.

Now a husband and father of five, Majok earned a Master’s degree in Political Science and is now pursuing a doctorate in Executive Leadership.

A seat on the council is considered a part time job, so Majok says he will continue with his other work with Alliance for Economic Inclusion, an employment program that helps people find and keep their jobs by offering services like transportation, child care or interpersonal skills.

Onondaga County Elections Commissioner Dustin Czarny said Majok’s win is “going to be a boon for the growing refugee community here in central New York and specifically the city of Syracuse.”

“They see this as a victory for them and they now have a voice on the city council that will cater to their specific needs,” said Czarny.

Majok plans to focus on service delivery in Syracuse, particularly with snow plowing. But he says he also wants to be a bridge between law enforcement and the community, who he says doesn’t have trust with police officers.

He says he also hopes his win will inspire other immigrants.

“I didn’t realize that when I got into the race until toward the end of it when so many of my brother and sisters start calling everywhere and just encouraged me to keep going. Then I realized it was bigger than me,” he said.

People stick flowers in the remains of the Berlin Wall during a commemoration ceremony to mark the 30th anniversary of the wall's fall at a memorial site at Bernauer Strasse in Berlin, Germany, Nov. 9, 2019.

Germany marked the 30th anniversary Saturday of the opening of the Berlin Wall, a pivotal moment in the events that brought down Communism in eastern Europe.

Leaders from Germany, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic attended a ceremony at Bernauer Strasse — where one of the last parts of the Berlin Wall remains — before placing roses in gaps in the once-fearsome barrier that divided the city for 28 years.

Axel Klausmeier, head of the Berlin Wall memorial site, recalled the images of delirious Berliners from East and West crying tears of joy as they hugged each other on the evening of Nov. 9, 1989.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives with a rose at a ceremony marking the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, in Berlin, Germany, Nov. 9, 2019.

Klausmeier paid tribute to the peaceful protesters in East Germany and neighboring Warsaw Pact countries who took to the streets demanding freedom and democracy, and to then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's policy of reforms.

The protests and a stream of people fleeing East Germany piled pressure on the country's Communist government to open its borders to the West and ultimately end the nation's post-war division.

Thirty years on, Germany has become the most powerful economic and political force on the continent, but there remain deep misgivings among some in the country about how the transition from socialism to capitalism was managed.

From right, the presidents of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Hungary Janos Ader, Poland Andrzej Duda, Slovakia Zuzana Caputova and of the Czech Republic Milos Zeman, are seen at Berlin Wall ceremony, in Berlin, Germany, Nov. 9, 2019.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel acknowledged this in a recent interview with daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung, saying that “with some things, where one might have thought that East and West would have aligned, one can see today that it might rather take half a century or more.”

Speaking at a memorial service in a small chapel near where the Wall once stood, Merkel commemorated those who were killed or imprisoned for trying to flee from East to West Germany and insisted that the fight for freedom worldwide isn't over.

“The Berlin Wall, ladies and gentlemen, is history and it teaches us: No wall that keeps people out and restricts freedom is so high or so wide that it can't be broken down,” she said.

Merkel also recalled that Nov. 9 remains a fraught date in German history, as it also marks the anniversary of the so-called Night of Broken Glass, an anti-Jewish pogrom in 1938 that foreshadowed the Nazi's Holocaust.

Light installations, concerts and public debates were planned throughout the city and other parts of Germany to mark the fall of the Wall, including a concert at Berlin's iconic Brandenburg Gate.

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