It’s been a month since I blogged and I have no major drama to report as an excuse for that. I just got sorry. So here I am, back again, with a story I was inspired to tell after reading an article this morning.
It surprises me how many people still have never head of The Lost Boys of Sudan after all of these years, all of movies and all of the publicity. If you are one who does not know who they are, here is a quick synopsis cut and pasted from Wikipedia.
“The Lost Boys of Sudan are more than 20,000 boys of the Nuer and Dinka ethnic groups who were displaced and/or orphaned during the Second Sudanese Civil War (1983–2005, about 2.5 million killed and millions were displaced). Most of the boys were orphans separated from their families when government troops and government-sponsored militias systematically attacked villages in southern Sudan, killing many of the inhabitants. Many avoided capture or death because they were away from their villages tending cattle at the cattle camps (grazing lands located near bodies of water where cattle were taken and tended largely by the village children during the dry season) and were able to flee and hide in the dense African bush. Presumably orphaned, they traveled by foot for years in search of safe refuge, on a journey that carried them over a thousand miles across three countries to refugee camps where they resided in Ethiopia and Kenya and in various villages were they sought refugee in South Sudan. Over half died along their epic journey, due to starvation, dehydration, sickness and disease and attack by wild animals and enemy soldiers. Experts say they are the most badly war-traumatized children ever examined.
In 2001, as part of a program established by the United States Government and the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), approximately 3800 Lost Boys were allowed to resettle in the United States. They are now scattered over at least 38 cities.”
I first heard about The Lost Boys through a documentary suggested for me by Netflix years ago. http://www.lostboysfilm.com/ Their story was unimaginable to my 21st century American mind and it stuck with me to the point that I felt like I had some personal claim in their futures simply because they were in my country now. They would be free and protected from the horrors of war. Then last year around this time, I was confirmed in the Episcopal church and our Bishop told us a story of The Lost Boys of Sudan.
One of those 38 cities the refugees are in is Jackson, Mississippi. The majority of Christian Sudanese in South Sudan are Anglican (Episcopalian) and the refugees had been aided by various charitable organizations such as Catholic Charities and the Mississippi Episcopalian Diocese. Bishop Gray said he looked out over the congregation from the pulpit one Sunday in Jackson and saw a group of mostly boys who were very thin and head and shoulders above everybody else. It was Sudanese boys…Lost Boys (and a few girls). Bishop Gray’s wife, Kathy, was helping with teaching the boys English and translation issues when she learned about a Sudanese girl named Tabitha. Their children were all grown and married and as she grew closer to Tabitha, according to Bishop Gray, she told him that Tabitha was coming to live with them and that was that. He made a trip to the Sudan last year to see how the diocese could help them. The country has been torn apart by almost continuous civil war for 30 years and there is literally no infrastructure in the South at all. Their main request was to pray for them. Here are his photos from that trip: http://picasaweb.google.com/dioms.org/Sudan2010#slideshow/5481967239786616098
I then watched this film about the boys, again, suggested by Netflix: http://www.godgrewtiredofus.com/trailer.html and an article was in the newsletter the diocese puts out for May which I read this morning. The headline reads “Sudanese community in Mississippi has highest number of graduates in country”. Along with a listing of all of the graduates, high school and college, there is a paragraph at the bottom that says “When Bishop Gray did the Easter Sudanese service at the cathedral, Dr. Gregg Miller, chairman of Sudanese Committee for the diocese, said that Gray wondered who all of the new people were. Miller told him that many of the Sudanese community are now foster parents themselves to unaccompanied refugee minors from Rwanda, Haiti and the Congo.”
These young men and women have lost their families, culture, country and homes, have been forced out of place after place, to run without food, water or shelter, have been beaten and scarred, have learned a new language and an ENTIRELY new way of life with electricity, running water and all of the unwritten rules that we know but are completely foreign to them. Do they feel sorry for themselves after all of the atrocities they have endured and witnessed? No. They give of their money to create clinics in their home land, they give of their time to help others not as “fortunate” as they are, they give of their lives to foster refugees from other countries so that they may have the same opportunities they now have. That is an example to follow, if we have the guts.