Lost Boys return home to build schools
August 17, 2010 10:33 PM Subscribe
posted by bluedaisy (12 comments total)
27 users marked this as a favorite
Valentino Achak Deng was a young Dinka boy in southern Sudan in the 1980s when his village was destroyed by government militia. He became one of the over 25,000 refugee children collectively known as the "Lost Boys of Sudan."
Valentino spent nine years living in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya before emigrating to the US in 2001.
In 2003, he met American writer Dave Eggers, and the two collaborated on the fictionalized "What Is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng." The two always intended for the proceeds from the book to support Valentino's hometown of Marial Bai in Sudan. They created the Valentino Achak Deng Foundation
as a vehicle for this.
In May 2009, the Foundation opened the Marial Bai Secondary School
, the only "fully functioning secondary school in the entire region." The school is free and admissions policies favor orphans
. However, many families wouldn't let their daughters attend, so Valentino built a girls' dormitory, and now 100 girls are able to live on-campus and focus on school full-time. The school has 260 students total.Rapper Emmanuel Jal
is another former Lost Boy who was also a child soldier in Sudan. He founded the NGO Gua Africa
to support rebuilding in war-torn Sudan. Gua is renovating a primary school in Leer and will be expanding the school into the Emma Academy
, named for Emma McCune, who rescued Jal and dozens of other Lost Boys, and who is the subject of the book Emma's War
Former Lost Boy Abraham Deng Ater, a University of Arizona graduate, founded the Deng Ater Foundation and plans to build schools in Sudan as well.
Former Lost Boys Gabriel Bol (now a teacher), Garang Mayuol (nurse), and Koor Garang (student) are the subjects of the film Rebuilding Hope
. The proceeds of this film, along with money being raised by Gabriel
and the others, will go towards public health and education projects in their home villages. The men have already built clean wells and eliminated cholera in one village
James Lubo Mijak, another former Lost Boy, is now a college graduate who is raising money to return to his village and to build a primary school
The Lost Boys were called called "among the most badly war-traumatized children ever examined
." And now many are determined to create for the next generation of southern Sudanese children what they never had.