The Lost Boys of Sudan represent a group of refugees with a unique story of struggle and survival. Despite being torn from their families by civil war as young boys, forced to survive with only each other to rely on, they have had to overcome unimaginable hardship and misfortune. The name “Lost Boys” was deemed by media to describe a group of over 200,000 boys ranging from the ages of about two to sixteen years of age. The Civil war in Sudan took their families as their mothers, sisters, grandmothers, and aunts were kidnapped and forced into slavery. Their fathers, brothers, grandfathers, and uncles were murdered to keep from rebelling to protect their families and fellow Sudanese people against the North whom was attacking them. These boys (with the exception of a few girls) were forced to flee their homes, hand in hand, and walk for thousands of miles over a period of a few months to reach resettlement camps on the border of Kenya. Along the way, thousands died of exhaustion, disease, malnutrition, starvation, and attacks by enemy soldiers, lions, and other wild animals. Providing proper burials for these boys was not an option because keeping on the move was necessary to survive.
Reaching the camps, however, did not ensure a life of prosperity. Shelter, food, medical assistance, and basic education were sparse and many were forced to move between various camps in Kenya and Ethiopia. These boys lived in these camps for years, with only the help of their new brothers to care for them. Fortunately, four thousand of these former Lost Boys were given the opportunity of their lives- resettlement in the United States. With the promise of a better life, the chance to work and go to school in a new part of the world, they had nothing to lose, but no idea what to expect.
Founder of HHSP, Manyang Reath Ker, was once a Lost Boy. He lost his family when he was three years old after his village was attacked and lived in refugee camps for the next thirteen years. On December 27th 2005, when he was just seventeen years old, Manyang came to Richmond, Virginia. Five years later, he learned of his father’s death back in 1996. Manyang then reached out to the American Red Cross, and in the summer of 2013, they found his mother and younger sister. Manyang has made it his life’s mission to share his story, and to help his brothers and the millions of other refugees in the world to build their own lives, and not allowing them to be forgotten.
“You never forget the people who fight for you when times are hard,” Manyang once told me. “[These boys] cared for me when things were difficult, where other people would have seen me as a burden. Life is different for us, but I know for sure we will always be friends, for the remainder of our lives.”
In honor of victims and survivors of war, we at HHSP would like nothing more than to share these stories to inspire and bring awareness to the global refugee crisis that millions are currently facing. We will be featuring stories of former Lost Boys, refugees, and other activists fighting this cause.