Nov 29, 2006

Seriously Speaking: Lost Boys of the Sudan

Two Lost Boys live with me. One is 22 years old; the other is 25. They escaped the horrors of the Sudan when they were tiny children. Both survived such unspeakable tragedies that they rarely talk of them. Nightmares of watching their parents and siblings die and villages burn, and of barely surviving a 2,000 mile trek first to Ethiopia and then to Kenya in bare feet without food or water haunt them. Years of living in refugee camps have sapped their strength, their teeth, their bones, and their overall health.

Manyang and Ayuen came to me through Catholic Charities two years ago. They arrived in America as teenagers thinking they were coming to the land of freedom and dreams, only to find that when they came of age and had to leave their foster homes, life in the U.S. became so much tougher than they ever anticipated. All I can really give them is a small shelter from the storm that rages around them.

To all who observe them they are grown men. But when you get to know them, they are little lost boys. Without parents. Without country. Without a proper education or the network of support that we all take for granted.

They work doubly hard so that they can send half their earnings to friends and countrymen left behind in the refugee camps, and fall exhausted into their beds every night. Our fast-paced materialistic culture bewilders them on so many levels. Committed to saving their friends and families, they cannot afford movies or restaurants or frivolous toys and possessions.

So as we all plan our joyful celebrations for the holidays, let's not forget the millions who died or are starving. Let's not forget Darfur and the ethnic cleansing that is still going on there. Thank you for reading.


jinxy said...

Thank you for this post. Sometimes I feel like we (Americans) are in a bubble because no one really knows about all the strife in Africa, and for the most part, I don't think many Americans want to know.

When I was in Europe, there were many political refugees from Africa living alongside us, so it was a more visible situation to us, and we were more aware.

Since I have been back, however, sometimes I feel that people around me just don't have much in the way of awareness, and it is so uplifting to realize that there are REAL people out there that have jobs and families like me that still care.

The more I read from you, the more I respect you.

Ms. Place said...

Amen to your thoughts, Jinxy. And thank you for your compliment. The blog admiration goes both ways.

eric3000 said...

We definitely live in a bubble. It infuriated me when people were saying how we had to invade Iraq in order to help the Iraqi people (how's that working out?) while we ignore genocides in other parts of the world. Thank you for what you do, Ms. Place!

Ms. Place said...

Eric, your words move me.