I was watching a show on TV today and they mentioned the Lost Boys of Sudan. So I thought that I would do some research and look into who these boys are.
I was shocked and saddened at what I found.
The atrocities of the Second Sudanese Civil War occurred between 1983 and 2005. During these 22 years around 2.5 million people were killed and many millions more were displaced. Terrible things happened during these years that should never have happened. Families were destroyed and lives changed forever.
This term “Lost Boys of Sudan” was actually a colloquial term that the aid workers used in the refugee camps that were trying to assist these many thousands of boys. The term was based on “the lost boys” from the Peter Pan story.
Many of these boys were very young. Some 7 years olds and even younger, were amongst those who were forced to flee their homes, families and villages, just to survive.
In fact, many of the boys who did flee never knew if their families were killed or still alive. As they saw their villages and communities being attacked and destroyed by the government troops and government-sponsored militias, the boys fled into the thick African bush in order to survive.
The boys then walked for years to find a safe place that they could live. They first travelled thousands of kilometers from the Sudan across the south-eastern part of the Sahara Desert to Ethiopia and then continued on to Kenya.
There were many long days when the lost boys of Sudan had no food to eat or food to drink. Sometimes they found leaves they could eat. Other times they sucked on wet mud to cool their dry throats.
These years were long and hard with many of the boys dying on their journey to find somewhere safe to stop and live. In fact, over half of the lost boys died of starvation, dehydration, attacks by wild animals, diseases and attacks by enemy soldiers.
A resettlement program was initiated in 1999 to allow Lost Boys and Lost Girls of Sudan, who were considered to be orphans, to move to America to live. If these children had been living in family groups then they were not considered to be orphans and hence were not seen as eligible for this resettlement program.
In 2001 the US Government and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), allowed approximately 3,800 Lost Boys of Sudan to settle in America. These boys were distributed between around 38 different US cities.
In 2003 a full-length documentary was made that followed two Sudanese refugees as they journeyed from Africa all of the way to America to begin new lives.
It was not easy for the boys once they arrived in the USA. Their exact ages were not known and so the aid workers had to guess their ages.
If they thought that the boys were under 18 years old then they were allowed to go to high school and get an education, but if the boys were considered to be 18 or older then they were not allowed to go to high-school. If judged to be over 18, then they were sent out to get a job.
But getting a job was not easy for these young men as they did not have skills to assist them. So many of these lost boys were forced to get low-paying menial jobs.
To me this is sad. Each of these young boys and men who were brought into America should have received an education so that they then had the opportunity to better themselves and not be stuck for the rest of their lives in menial low-paid work.
It is true that these men, now in their thirties, can sleep at night without fear of enemy soldiers or wild animals killing them, but they should also know that they have a future.
I only hope that the Lost Boys of Sudan who are living in the USA will be able to give a better future to their children.
I also hope that mankind can see the pain that has been caused to so many over the years, such as these innocent young boys, and take a stand to make the world a better place for future generations!
Until next time, Remember to Enjoy Life, Smile at a Stranger and Make a Difference in the World!
Leanne Annett <><