You remember the “Lost Boys” of Sudan, thousands of boys as young as six years-old who survived hunger and deaths of family members and friends as they fled the brutal civil war in Sudan on foot. Eventually some of them were chosen to emigrate to the United States.
Now two of the Lost Boys – Ayuel Leek Deng and Beny Ngor Chol - have written a book entitled “Courageous Journey: Walking the Lost Boys’ Path from the Sudan to America”. The book details the journey across Sudan into neighboring countries, life in the refugee camps, and adjusting to life in the United States.
Ayuel Leek Deng, one of the authors of "Courageous Journey" told VOA they wrote the book because they feel their life experiences could give hope and encouragement to those who might find themselves in similar situations.
“We decided to write book, me and my friend Beny, because our live experience is a kind of a unique experience as a child and as we grew up in adulthood. And we would love to share it with the world by writing our feelings and our experiences of what we encountered in life. We hope to give hope and courage to those who might face similar situations like what we faced in Sudan during the civil war,” he said.
Deng described some of the terrifying difficulties the Lost Boys faced while walking across Sudan after their villages were attacked.
“There were lots of terrifying events that involved the attacks by the Sudan government using tanks and air bombardment, the wild animals, the disease, the hunger and thirst, and the most horrible event that we encountered and we continue to remember is the drowning of a number of colleagues in the Gilo River when the army chased us with tanks and guns from Ethiopia,” Deng said.
One part of the book detailed Sudan People’s Liberation Army leader Colonel John Garang’s speech to the young Lost Boys at a refugee camp. Deng said Garang’s speech mark a pivotal point in the Lost Boys’ lives.
“Dr. Garang actually inspired our lives in the area of education, particularly how we can understand the Sudan problem and why the enemy was attacking our villages, taking the cattle, burning down our homes. We could not understand until Dr. Garang came and spoke to us and educated us and encouraged us to take education seriously so that we could be able to understand Sudan’s problem and find a way to solve it,” he said.
The book also detailed some of the Lost Boys’ experiences as they tried to adjust to life in the United States.
“It’s not easy to come another country and adjust to a second life. It’s very hard, but because we were exposed to war and we have experienced a lot of bad things, we had to compressed our schedule to work harder and go to school as well so that we could follow the American dream,” Deng said.
He said their goals include getting an education, finding a well-paying job, buy a house, have a family, a nice car and live life like Americans.
Deng also said the Lost Boys experienced several funny situations as they adjusted to life in the United States.
“We encountered many funny things like automatic doors and calling the bathroom a rest room. Back in Africa, a restroom is the place where the dead bodies are placed to rest until burial time. Food was another funny thing because we had to learn the names of American foods. Americans smile at anyone they come across. We thought that was funny because in our culture, you don’t smile at anyone you don’t know,” Deng said.