In the 1980s, civil war broke out in Southern Sudan in Africa. Nearly two million civilians were killed as government troops attacked and burned villages. Girls tended to stay with their parents and were raped, killed, or taken into slavery.
Some boys were out tending cattle, sheep, or goats when the attacks occurred. Other boys, some as young as six years old, were too young to fight. They were urged to run into the jungle. Banding together, approximately 30,000 orphaned boys traveled for months on foot, ultimately reaching a refugee camp in Ethiopia.
The boys stayed in Ethiopia until 1991 when Communists overthrew the government and chased the boys out with tanks, killing many of them as they fled. The survivors ended up walking for a year back through Sudan. Nearly half of the boys died from starvation, dehydration, or drowning. Others were killed by gunshot, crocodiles, or lions. Those who survived ended up in another refugee camp, in Kenya, where the conditions also were rough. While in Kenya, the boys learned English.
Because of this difficult situation in Kenya, the United States Government intervened in 2000 and brought about 4,000 of the boys here. The boys were dubbed the “Lost Boys” by a journalist writing about their struggle. The name was borrowed from the story of Peter Pan. That character lived on the small island of Neverland among a group of other children without any parents. That group of kids was called the Lost Boys. The term was then borrowed to describe the reality of the Sudanese boys living alone. Although they do not necessarily love the nickname, it has stuck.
Fast forward to today: Currently there are more than 100 Lost Boys living in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. Men now, most are in their 20s and 30s. They are diligent, hardworking young men who have strong faith, a good work ethic, and take nothing for granted.
They have been working at places like Central Market, Home Depot, Tom Thumb, and Presbyterian Hospital. Others have lost their jobs in the down economy.
Some recently graduated with college degrees from UT Dallas and UT Arlington. They have degrees in things like accounting, business, and neuroscience. They, too, are looking for jobs, ideally ones where they can put their hard-earned education to work.
Meet some of the guys
Jacob – Jacob graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington with a degree in finance and accounting in August of 2008. To financially support himself during school, Jacob worked as many hours as he could at Central Market. For more than a year after graduating from college, Jacob was unable to find a professional job and continued working at Central Market to pay rent and buy food.
In the fall of 2009, through the client of a friend, Jacob received a call for an interview where he was qualified because of his degree. Within a month he was hired. He loves his job and is using his education to achieve his dreams. Jacob also has become a United States citizen.
Jacob has not been back to Africa for many years. He lost his parents during the war. Today, he is living a new life in his new home, the United States.
Philip – Philip received his degree in finance from the University of Texas at Dallas in 2012.
To support himself, Philip got his Pharmacy Tech degree and worked at CVS pharmacy for several years. After the opening of The Bush Library, Philip got a second job there to earn some extra money. More importantly he wanted to give back to the community that had helped him for so many years.
Today Philip continues to work at the library a few hours a week and has a new full time job.
Like so many of the other Lost Boys, Philip has received his US citizenship and considers Texas his home.
Makor – Makor was only four years old when he had to flee his village because of the war in Sudan. After years wandering from Sudan to Ethiopia and back with the other Lost Boys and ten more years in a refugee camp, he found himself in Dallas. Eventually finding his way into college, Makor received his degree in finance from Dallas Baptist University. Not unlike many students, Makor worked part time jobs while going to school to pay for food and rent. Since graduation he has worked several different jobs. After having a temporary health issue and not being satisfied with a career job, Makor returned to Sudan to find his family and see if he could be of any help there. He was in Sudan for six months and has recently returned finding his home once again in Dallas, Texas. His dream now is to start his career using his finance background and hopefully working in a local bank.
Many young people today have degrees and can not use them in their employment. The Lost Boys aren’t any different in that respect. The difference however is that the Lost Boys don’t have the family support and network that a typical American student has. Over 60 Lost Boys have achieved their dream of receiving college degrees because of dedication on their part and generous community donations. The continuing need of monetary donations to support the Lost Boys who are still working on getting their degrees still exists. 100% of all donations are used for tuition, books and emergency needs for the local Lost Boys. Friends of the Lost Boys needs professional employment referrals for these students as well. We appreciate your continued support in these areas.