Archive for October 2, 2011

Dr. Lam Akol, The SPLM-DC Party chairman, Arrives in Juba

Posted: October 2, 2011 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Junub Sudan

Sunday, 02 October 2011

lam_akol_ajawid_200The Sudan People Liberation Movement for Democratic Change (SPLM/DC) party chairman, Dr Lam Akol Ajawin, has returned to South Sudan.

The visibly excited Akol, told a press conference that he was happy to meet President Salva Kiir in Nairobi last week, and said his party is ready to cooperate with government to build the nation.

Ajawin was received at Juba airport by the party’s Vice chairman Mark Atem and SPLM-DC leaders from Jonglei, Lakes, Western Bahr El-Ghazal and Central Equatoria states.

Lam refuted allegations that his party, the SPLM/DC is sponsoring militias.

Exiled South Sudan opposition leader returns home

Leader of the breakaway SPLM-DC Lam Akol. FILE | AFRICA REVIEW |
By MACHEL AMOS in JUBAPosted Monday, October 3  2011 at  09:08

The leader of South Sudan’s largest opposition party returned home Sunday after months in exile since the euphoric independence of the country in July.

Dr Lam Akol, the chairman of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-Democratic Change (SPLM-DC), a breakaway faction of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, allegedly feared arrest by the security of the infant nation.

He has been accused of having close links with the rebel group headed by former SPLA renegade general George Athor Deng, who picked up arms against the government after losing a gubernatorial race for the Jonglei state last year.

Mr Philip Lasuba, who was netted by the army last month after mobilising 94 youths in Eastern Equatoria state, claimed that Dr Akol was the chairman of the rebels and that Athor was his deputy and chief director of operations. Dr Akol has denied the allegations.

Dr Akol ’s return marks a new dawn of political freedom in a country grappling to overcome the wrath of repressiveness against which it fought for decades, his party officials said.

Political space

“This is the starting of working together of the SPLM with the SPLMDC and other political parties,” acting SPLM-DC Secretary General Onyoti Adigo Nyikwec, said.

“With the wisdom of the President [Salva Kiir] coming with other parties, we will have a lot of change of political space in this country,” Mr Onyoti said.

Since it broke away in 2009, the SPLMDC has been a bitter rival of SPLM. The latest time both came together was in October last year as the SPLM rallied all parties behind the referendum

South Sudan opposition leader pledges unconditional cooperation

October 2, 2011 (JUBA) – Lam Akol Ajawin, the leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement for Democratic Change (SPLM-DC) – South Sudan’s official opposition political party – on Sunday pledged unconditional cooperation with the government and president Salva Kiir Mayardit in order to foster unity and development of the new nation.

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SPLM-DC’s leader Lam Akol (L) and South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir (R) Source (

Speaking to journalists at Juba International Airport upon arrival from the Kenyan capital of Nairobi on Sunday, he said he was “happy” to be back in the capital of the new republic of South Sudan.

Akol’s return comes after he met with Kiir in Nairobi to discuss political issues that were blocking his return to the country from Khartoum.

Since Akol split from the SPLM in 2009 to form his own party, SPLM-DC has been banned and accused of having an illegal militia loyal to it. However, despite claiming its agents and candidates were harassed, SPLM-DC became the largest opposition party after elections in 2010.

Despite South Sudan becoming independent in July Akol has maintained an office in Khartoum the Sudanese capital. He told journalists that the issues that had kept him from returning were “not big” and that was “grateful” that Kiir had understood his concerns.

The SPLM and SPLM-DC have spent much of the last two years attempting to tarnish each others image, which reportedly had led to deep mistrust among leaders and followers of the two parties.

However Akol said on Sunday that he and Kiir “agreed that as new nation, in building it we need to cooperate, we need to work together, we need to have consensus on how we approach the challenges that are facing our country.”

“Nobody however small is not important in this exercise (building the nation). This is the understanding we have and therefore I hope that as I come as the leader of the SPLM-DC, we will, as opposition party, cooperates with the government and especially the president”, said Akol.

Akol argued that opposition parties were an important part of democracies and said some people were under the “misconception that the opposition and the government don’t come together”.

“Democracy calls for opposition and government” to act as a mirror and hold the executive to account, he said.

Elections in South Sudan in 2010 saw an overwhelming vote establishing the SPLM as the ruling party. The SPLM had governed South Sudan as an autonomous region of Sudan since a 2005 peace deal.

Akol said SPLM-DC would be ready to extend a hand of cooperation to the government and the president in order to “precede with the dreams and ambitions, aspirations” of South Sudan, which for decades has suffered due to conflict.

“It is our duty as sons and daughters of this nation to build it so that our people could get what they want so that prosperity could record”, said Akol

General Alfred Lado Gore, minister of environment in the central government who was at Juba International Airport to greet Akol told Sudan Tribune he appreciated his return.

“This is the only way forward. I welcome Dr. Lam home because politics is best played while one is able to see what is being done. We want those who will keep reminding the party in power all the time through constructive and not destructive politics”, said Gore.

Gore said that constructive opposition and allowing communities and diverse groups to be heard was how democracy is conducted around the world and South Sudan should not be an exception. “There is no point we can endanger lives of our people simply because we are not agreeing on certain agenda,” added Gore.

The main source of hostility and bickering originates from the 2010 elections when Akol stood against Kiir for the presidency of South Sudan. Akol and the SPLM-DC felt that the results had been tampered with in favour of the SPLM and claimed they had won far more votes and seats in parliament.

Onyoti Adigo, the leader of the SPLM-DC in the National Assembly commended the reconciliation initiative.

“It is a great joy and honour for what president of the South Sudan did by meeting with our chairman. The meeting was very cordial and friendly”, said Adigo claiming that Akol and president Kiir were great friends.

“Their meeting in Nairobi was very encouraging indeed that was why they met without any third power or third person to bring them together”, he said

The senior SPLM-DC member said the invitation to meet from president Kiir was accepted immediately by Akol. Adigo maintained that Akol received no assurances before his return.

He said the main things the SPLM-DC leader wants to achieve is the achievement of the unity of the people of South Sudan in order to build the nation. “That is number one thing which we think it is very important. The second thing is how we deliver service to our community because they are with great expectations”, he said.

Defection of senior SPLM-DC members

Adigo accused individual members with the South Sudan’s ruling party, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) of instilling fear by threatening some members of the SPLM-DC.

He said that other politicians who moved back to the SPLM was gain a position in the government. The SPLM congratulated the defectors and “described them as nationalists”, Adigo said.


Lam Akol brushes aside speculations of returning to SPLM’s fold

October 1, 2011 (NAIROBI) – South Sudan’s renegade opposition leader Lam Akol has dismissed as “rubbish” speculations that his meeting last week with the country’s president Salva Kiir was a prelude to his return to the mainstream Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).

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South Sudan’s opposition Leader Lam Akol (

Akol, who is the leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement Democratic Change (SPLM-DC), a splinter faction of the ruling SPLM in South Sudan, held a meeting on Thursday, 29 September, with South Sudan’s president and SPLM’s chairman Salva Kiir in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

The meeting, which surprised observers given the bitter animosity that characterized relations between the two parties, was followed by remarks in which Kiir announced that Akol would soon be seen in South Sudan’s capital Juba to rejoin the domestic political arena in the newly independent country on the ticket of his party.

In an interview with Sudan Tribune from Nairobi on Friday, 30 September, Akol said that he did not seek to involve any foreign interlocutors in brokering his meeting with Kiir.

He revealed that the genesis of the meeting dates back to March this year when he sent a letter to Kiir who later met with a delegation of the SPLM-DC in June.

Akol said that his meeting with Kiir had mainly focused on issues related to opening the political space in the south and providing all political parties with guarantees to operate.

According to the SPLM-DC leader, his party has had difficulties operating in the south.

In November 2009, in the run-up to April’s general elections, Kiir ordered authorities in South Sudan, then a semi-autonomous region, to allow all political parties to operate freely except the SPLM-DC.

Reacting to a question on whether he might end up rejoining the mainstream SPLM from which he split to form the SPLM-DC in June 2009, Akol termed such speculations as “rubbish,” adding that this would not happen because the SPLM-DC was the main opposition party.

Akol also sought to discredit reports of his party’s implosion, saying those who recently defected were bought by the SPLM, in reference to the party’s former secretary-general Sandra Bona Malwal and her group who declared their defection in September this year.

He said that his party aims to play a leading role in the opposition in the post-independence South, stressing the importance of national unity in order to tackle the challenges facing the budding nation.

“We look at opposition as a mean to keep the government on check. We are a mirror through which the government can see its success and failures. In that respect, we need to help the president succeed” he said.


Machine Gun Preacher: South Sudan is Introduced into Big Screen

Posted: October 2, 2011 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Junub Sudan

By Steve Paterno

It is so rare that the plight and story of the suffering people of South Sudanese ever reaches large audience through a big screen. However, an inspirational movie trailer, Machine Gun Preacher just does that. Machine Gun Preacher is premiered on September 28. It is a Hollywood feature film, starring Gerard Butler and directed by Marc Forster. The movie is base on a book, “Another Man’s War,” a true biography of an American Preacher Sam Childers, also known as the Machine Gun Preacher. Childers transformational life story is as just inspiring as his mission to save lives in a faraway land in Africa, South Sudan to be exact.

The Machine Gun Preacher grew up in the hills of Pennsylvania, but by his teen years, his path drifted into a lowlife drug addict, drug dealer, a biker gang and eventually a convict. Upon his release from prison, the Machine Gun Preacher found refuge at the church, due to advice of his wife, Lynn. After establishing relationship with God, the Machine Gun Preacher discovered his true calling. He then traveled to the war ravaged South Sudan in 1998. His first tragic encounter was when he was stumbled over pieces of a blown up child, who was hit by land mine. Since then, he had made pledge with God to support the children of South Sudan.

From 1998 and onward, the Machine Gun Preacher has devoted his life and mission to the suffering children of South Sudan. He built a shelter to house the orphaned children. He then found out that a brutal Ugandan rebels, known as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), who were operating out of South Sudan to be responsible for the abduction, enslaving, and killing of children. The LRA, which is still well active today is estimated to have abducted over fifty thousands children, where they are forced to be child soldiers or sex slaves until they escaped, rescued or killed in the process.

In such dire situation, the Machine Gun Preacher had no choice, but to go and rescue the children from clutches of the LRA. In order to do that, he has to go with a bible on one hand and an AK 47 on the other, along with the South Sudanese freedom fighters, the SPLA, so as to fight the LRA and rescue the children under their custody. That was when he earned the name, the Machine Gun Preacher.

The Machine Gun Preacher method is hardly conventional in comparison with missionary devotion. Others referred to him with contemn as a mercenary as oppose to a missionary. Nonetheless, his unconventional method produced astounding results, because of the many lives that he saves. He had rescued countless of children from their abductors, the LRA. His orphanage fed more than thousand kids. Today, more than 200 children proudly call the Machine Gun Preacher orphanage their home. The Machine Gun Preacher set chartable organizations, the Angels of East Africa and the Children’s Village, specifically to cater for his mission in Africa to save lives, particularly of the children.

Inspirations come from different sources, and obviously, the Machine Gun Preacher trailer is one of them. With such wide exposure to large audience, there will be those who will be inspired by the movie, whereby they will make efforts for the interest of helping the suffering children of South Sudan. Today in South Sudan, the children are at most risk. Children mortality rate in South Sudan is among the highest in the world, due to malnutrition, diseases, and conflicts. A fifteen year old girl is more likely to die in childbirth, rape, enslavement, than finishing a primary school.

Child soldier and child labor are not in the vocabularies of those who subject these children into the harsh conditions. If anything, the Machine Gun Preacher movie must worth you bucks, because if it does not inspire you, it will at least move you.

By PaanLuel Wel

In Memory of Nyamai Biliu and Simon Maluil

Many of you must have already heard, read, talked or written about this tragic news about two young South Sudanese couple which reportedly occurred on September 28th, 2011 in the USA.

                          Murder Victim’s Father Speak out About Her Death

Nyamai Biliu’s father Kun Garbang says he brought his family to America to escape the war in Sudan about a decade ago. He says the goal was to find a more peaceful place where his 7 children could grow up safely. Kun says he never imagined losing his daughter in such a violent way here.

Kun Garbang cannot praise his daughter Nyamai Biliu enough. A beautiful girl, Nyamai competed in the Miss Sudan American pageant and was going to school to become a police officer. Her father says, “I’m very proud of her and really, this loss is great.”

Kun lost Nyamai when police say her ex-boyfriend Simon Maluil shot and killed her and then himself. Kun says, “only one person can answer, the killer himself, I would just ask him, what happened? Why did you kill my daughter?”

But Kun will never get that answer. He says he’s not sure what Maluil’s relationship was to his daughter, but as a fellow Sudanese, Kun says, Maluil was like family. He says, “we are relatives according to culture, he was my brother-in-law.”

Kun says Nyamai had no enemies in this community, only friends, so her death is even more puzzling. Her father hopes others learn just how devastating violence is from this. He says, “maybe the loss of my daughter will be a lesson to a lot of young kids.”

And although she will always be a daughter to him, Kun says Nyamai was also a mother herself. She leaves behind a three and a five-year-old who their grandfather says actually saw their mother killed. He says, “since yesterday I never had one tear, but when I saw them I was crying like a baby, because I see my daughter.” A daughter Kun says can only live on now through the children she loved so much.

Kun says he questions why Maluil had a gun in the first place. He says we need stricter gun laws to prevent crimes like this from happening.

As usually the case when such horrendous events happen in the community, there is always a yearning for some kind of explanation and interpretation: how such things could have taken place midst us.

I was in that situation, trying to finger out the best possible explication as to why a young man would decide to take the life of a woman with whom he has children with, together with his own, leaving the children parent-less. And that is happening in the USA, the supposedly refuge for the war-tormented-souls we all came to for shelter against violence.

As I was going about, striving to piece my ideas together into an article on this topic, I stumbled upon this article about the deteriorating PTSD situation of the Lost Boys and Girls of the Sudan, written in 2005 by Leigh Flayton, merely 4 years after their arrival in the USA.

While each situation may be unique in one way or another, such as the case of Nyamai Biliu, the article, nevertheless, captured the best possible interpretation of what transpired on September 28th, 2011.

Instead of my own article on this incident, I have copied and pasted below the entire article for your own consumption and analysis. I wholeheartedly apologized for the names mentioned in the article, of whom their owners or relatives maybe uncomfortable of being reminded of or coming across for the first time in the article.

But for the fact that the article is in the public domain, I would have redacted some otherwise sensitive and personal information from it. That would definitely be of no help whatsoever since the link to the article is provided underneath as a source.

Here is the article:

Lost in America: The Lost Boys and Girls of the Sudan.

It was supposed to be a storybook tale of young refugees triumphing against all odds. But an alarming
number of Sudan’s “Lost Boys” have spiraled into alcohol abuse, crime and even fratricide. What went
– – – – – – – – – – – –
By Leigh Flayton
Aug. 16, 2005 | PHOENIX —

When Joseph Abil arrived in Dallas in 1995, he represented the first wave of
extraordinary refugees, mostly young men, who became known to the world as the “Lost Boys of Sudan.”
Abil, 20 years old at the time, had fled civil war in his native country that wiped out his village. He survived
a perilous migration across Africa, endless hunger, and harsh conditions in a refugee camp in Kenya. When
he settled in Texas, with the help of the United States government, he was finally free to lead a life of hope
and promise.

But life in America presented Abil with struggles and dangers of a different kind. In 1997, feeling isolated,
he moved to Phoenix, where other refugees from his Sudanese community had been resettled. He lived
alone in an apartment and worked as a stock clerk at a Fry’s supermarket. Although Abil took medication
for mental health problems, his friend Martin Abucha said Abil had no trouble holding down a job.

Early this year, Abil stopped going to work. One afternoon in February, he left his apartment and headed for
the I-17 freeway, miles from where he lived, and started wandering north along the median during rush
hour. A highway patrol officer approached Abil, and according to a report from Arizona state officials, Abil
grew “agitated” and refused to move off the median to a safe location. The officer fired a Taser at Abil, who
retaliated by throwing “baseball-sized rocks” at him. Pulling out a handgun, the officer fired three shots at
Abil. The refugee who triumphed over years of hardship in Africa fell dead on the Arizona freeway.

Since the late 1990s, the Lost Boys have made headlines around the world. In 2001, their sojourn was hailed
as a remarkable success story on “60 Minutes II.” “In Sudan, thousands of Lost Boys fought off dangers we
can barely imagine, and are now, happily, flying off to the United States,” reported CBS correspondent Bob
Simon. In a second story that aired the following January, Simon said of the Lost Boys’ lives in America:
“There were dark moments. There were bound to be, but they passed.” A Kansas City man, featured in the
show, said of one Lost Boy he mentored, “He’s living the American dream. He’s already got a job; he’s selfsufficient.

You’ve taken someone literally, almost literally, in the Stone Age and dropped him into a modern
civilization, saying after four months you’re on your own, and he is, and he’s fine.”
Many of Abil’s “brothers,” as the Lost Boys call each other, have indeed made better lives here. They are
earning high school diplomas, attending community colleges and universities, and holding down a variety of
jobs, typically low-paying ones. Today, nearly 4,000 Lost Boys call America home.

Last December, Arizona’s Deng Majok Chol, 27, became the first Lost Boy to graduate from a major U.S.
college, Arizona State University, with a double major in political science and economics. In February of
this year, People magazine profiled three Lost Boys who had returned to the Kakuma refugee camp in
Kenya to help their brothers still stuck there. “In less than five years,” reported the magazine, “they
transformed from wide-eyed immigrants who had never seen a kitchen freezer to young men working their
way through college in San Diego.”

But for an alarming number of Lost Boys, their journey to America has taken a much darker turn — into
unemployment, alcohol abuse, petty crime, murder and suicide. Unresolved cultural differences and a lack
of support, training and education have led them to fall through the cracks of the social and legal system.
Many Lost Boys, advocates and researchers say, suffer from some degree of trauma-related mental illness,
most notably post-traumatic stress disorder.

“We want our Lost Boys happy, polite and grateful — and during the first couple of honeymoon years, that’s
what we saw,” says Ann Wheat, co-founder of the Arizona Lost Boys Center in Phoenix. The center, which
opened in 2003, offers more than 400 Lost Boys a place to gather, speak with career counselors, and get
legal and medical advice. “But we do the Lost Boys and ourselves a huge disservice by perpetuating a one
dimensional image of them.

If they were all models of emotional health, we might as well conclude that war
is good for children, save our time and resources, and all go home.” Wheat, who also works as a supervisor
for Phoenix’s city parks, says that reports of troubling incidents around the country often reach the center
through the Lost Boys’ own word-of-mouth network. Lately, she says, “It has started to feel like an

The Lost Boys were victims of a brutal civil war in the south of Sudan that began more than two decades
ago. The Arizona center’s current outreach coordinator, Jany Deng, 26, landed in Phoenix in 1995; he and
his blood brother Simon were two of the first four Lost Boys to arrive in Arizona. Their saga had begun 10
years before.

While herding cattle in 1985, Jany and other boys from his village witnessed the destruction of their homes
by government-backed Islamic militias. They took off running, beginning a multiyear exodus that spanned
East Africa and countries around the globe. Many of their parents were murdered and their sisters raped,
enslaved and killed. (As a result, there are fewer Lost Girls.)

For years, tens of thousands of Lost Boys walked more than 1,000 miles across East Africa, thousands dying
of starvation, disease, and militia and animal attacks. Jany and his group first went east to Ethiopia, where
Jany was reunited with Simon, who had made it there with another group of Lost Boys. But when civil war
flared up in 1990, they fled back to Sudan. They returned to nothing: Their family and village were gone.
Eventually they trekked to Kenya, winding up in the Dadaab refugee camp. After a year in Dadaab, they
were among the first few relocated to the United States.

In the 2003 documentary film “Lost Boys of Sudan,” one Lost Boy expresses the shared perception, while in
the Kakuma refugee camp, of what it will be like to leave for America: “This journey is like you are going
to heaven.”

When Jany and Simon arrived in Arizona, Jany, then age 16, was sent to live with a foster family; Simon,
23, shared an apartment with two older boys. It was a pattern that continued from coast to coast as more of
them came; the minors were resettled with families, while older Lost Boys were placed in dingy apartments,
often cramped together, in rough city neighborhoods or on the outskirts of towns.

In Phoenix, Jany attended school, made friends and joined the track team; Simon couldn’t keep a job. He
told Jany that “people looked at him different and made comments.” By the spring of 1997, Simon had
grown despondent. He wanted to bring his girlfriend from Dadaab to Arizona, but to no avail. He had no
money or job prospects. According to Jany, Simon began to speak of suicide.

On Apr. 10, 1997, Simon bought a 9MM rifle and rode a city bus toward the Catholic Social Services office
building in North Phoenix. He got off the bus, took the rifle out of its box and fired it in the parking lot of a
Circle K convenience store before heading to the office. A police helicopter and officers responded as
Simon entered Catholic Social Services at lunchtime. Once inside, Simon looked for his caseworkers and,
according to the police report, began firing his gun in the air. No one was hurt. The police arrived at the
building and Simon shot at Officer Terrence Kobza. Kobza returned fire and killed Simon with a bullet in
the arm and another in the chest.

Today, Jany still hasn’t made peace with Simon’s death. “Why here?” he asks. “He could have died over
there. I could have died over there,” he says of Africa, his words breaking into a stutter. “The way it
happened, it was not a good way.”

Local news and police reports from the past eight years, along with accounts from advocates and Lost Boys
themselves, reveal a trail of tragic events.

In August 2001 in Boston, Daniel Majok Kachuol, 19, was charged with assault and rape, just six months
after his arrival. In September 2002 in Rochester, Minn., Christofar Atak, 31, ran in front of a police car in
the street, shouting, “I want to die!” Under disputed circumstances, a police officer ended up shooting Atak
point-blank in the back. Atak, who survived, had a blood-alcohol level that indicated he was severely
intoxicated. That same month, Phillip Ajack Cham, 33, entered an immigration office in Houston
demanding to be repatriated to Sudan; he grabbed a gun from a guard, firing it and threatening suicide
before being subdued by officers.

In April 2004 in Fargo, N.D., Chol Deng Chol, 25 — considered “one of the most promising students we’ve
seen in a long time” by a mentor at North Dakota State University — was charged with the rapes of two
teenage girls after a night of drinking. In Atlanta that summer, Ajuong Manuer, 21, died following an
alcohol-fueled fight — over $10 — with fellow Lost Boy Mayen Biar Diing, 25. And in May 2005 in Seattle,
Kero Riiny Giir, 27, stabbed to death an ex-girlfriend, Lost Girl Roda Bec, 16, for being “rude” to him, as
he would later tell police. After fleeing the scene, Giir had jumped off a highway overpass in an apparent
suicide attempt.

“We have a lot of angry Lost Boys, and it has not been brought to the attention of the community,” says
John Aza, 40, director of the Southern Sudanese Resettlement Program in Tucson. Aza left Sudan in 1996
and is currently earning a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Arizona. He
does not count himself among the Lost Boys, though he is close with the community. At the end of July,
Aza visited six Lost Boys who had been released from jail — some arrested for driving while intoxicated,
two for arguing with police officers after a fight in a club. For Lost Boys who lack jobs and community
support, and who have a hard time adapting to American culture, says Aza, alcohol is often “the nearest

“A lot of Lost Boys have been picked up for DUIs,” Wheat says. “It appears to be a growing problem in the
Sudanese community, but it’s something that’s kept a dark secret. They don’t deal with it. We could start an
AA meeting at the center and nobody would come.”

Advocates across the country, including from large enclaves in Atlanta and Jacksonville, Fla., express
serious concerns about publicizing the Lost Boys’ problems. They say the refugee community is extremely
sensitive about them, while some fear a backlash could undermine fundraising, scholarships and the ability
to enlist volunteers and mentors. Wheat also worries that news of dark-skinned refugees falling into violent
crime won’t be well received, especially in America’s post-Sept. 11 political climate.

But shining a light on the troubling cases could be critical to helping the refugees, says Apuk Ayuel, who
serves as deputy spokeswoman for the newly established Lost Boys and Girls of Sudan, a nonprofit support
group based in Los Angeles. Ayuel, 24, fled Sudan with her mother and arrived in Houston in 1996. She
currently studies political science at the University of Texas at Arlington. “It seems like the way it’s
depicted is that every single Lost Boy has gone through — that their situation is all equal, that all of them are
getting educations,” she says. “But there are a lot of people who are falling through the cracks. Their deeper
stories are not being told.”

Some of those stories involve dozens of Lost Boys who have been victimized themselves. Violent crime —
often in racially charged circumstances — including assault, robbery and murder, has led to the deaths of at
least four Lost Boys. They have also been involved in a rash of car accidents. Many Lost Boys saw their
first cars just a few years ago and so have little driving experience; according to Wheat, more than two
dozen had serious accidents in Arizona alone in 2004, including two fatalities.

Wheat says she knows of at least a dozen around the country who’ve attempted suicide.
While the details of various tragic cases remain murky, researchers see at least one clear thread tying them
all together: trauma-related mental illness, mostly left untreated. David Berceli is a trauma therapist and
founder of Trauma Recovery Assessment and Prevention Services who worked in Sudan between 2001 and
2004. Berceli, who counseled a group at the Arizona Lost Boys Center in July on post-traumatic stress
disorder, says he’s troubled, but not surprised by the pattern of incidents. “With people who have been put
through years of life-and-death experiences, untreated fear and anger can develop into hatred and rage,” he
says. “It becomes an uncontrollable energy.”

In June, Dr. Paul Geltman, a professor of pediatrics at the Boston University School of Medicine, published
a study measuring the assimilation and well-being of 304 Lost Boys who arrived as minors in the U.S. from
late 2000 to early 2001. While many fared relatively well, the study concludes that 20 percent of them suffer
from PTSD.

Geltman says the rate of PTSD does not necessarily go beyond “what would be expected” of a traumatized
refugee population. At the same time, he adds, he finds it remarkable that the prevalence of PTSD isn’t
higher. “I’d love the opportunity to do a large assessment of the older Lost Boys for comparison,” he says.
He notes that the problems of the older Lost Boys are probably “much greater” and would amount to greater
levels of dysfunction, considering they’ve received less attention and support, and fewer services, than the
minors. But even the minors, Geltman says, have not necessarily received the mental health help they’ve
needed. As a result, his report concludes, the Lost Boys face lasting difficulties in being integrated into U.S.

Advocates, including Sudanese who have become leaders among the refugee community, share that view.
According to Ayuel, many of the Lost Boys still suffer nightmares about the horrors they witnessed and
endured. “They’re normal most of the time, but they’ll have the same nightmares over and over,” she says.
“There are some people in the community of Lost Boys and Girls who will say, ‘Yeah, they’re a little
crazy.'” Ayuel says therapy is a concept as foreign to the Sudanese natives as refrigerators and fast-food restaurants once were. In fact, therapy is taboo to them.

Peter Deng (no relation to Jany; the name Deng means “rain” and is common in Sudan) found his way to
Phoenix in 2001. When he arrived, he recalls, “I was thinking about food.” During his nine years in a
refugee camp in Kenya, he ate food provided by American relief agencies. “So I was thinking that America
is a good country,” he says. “Maybe if I go there I will make money; I will go to school.”

In his first year in Phoenix, Peter was beaten up, carjacked and wrongly accused of fathering a child. He was fined $1,200 for driving without a license or insurance, which he had no idea he needed. He learned about the U.S. court system when he had to file a restraining order against a former girlfriend, who threatened him by saying, “You are just a refugee here in America. I can kill you.” These days, Peter rarely goes out in public, especially at night, and he says he fears going to jail. “If I go to public places, the mall or a club, somebody might hurt me for that,” he says, seated inside the Arizona center one afternoon.

Peter has received important assistance from the center, which helped him find a job as a file clerk for a
company that sells concert tickets. Located across the street from the state capitol in a dodgy part of
downtown Phoenix, the center shares a parking lot with a plastics recycling plant. Sudanese folk art and
black-and-white portraits of Lost Boys at the Kakuma refugee camp add touches of familiarity to a place
that offers help with foreign struggles like disconnected phone lines, eviction notices and shopping for
that offers help with foreign struggles like disconnected phone lines, eviction notices and shopping for
groceries and clothes.

(Lost Boys in Phoenix, according to Wheat, have been bilked for thousands of dollars
by disreputable companies.) The center has partnered with Target, PetSmart, Phoenix’s Sky Harbor airport
and other businesses to arrange some 150 jobs for Lost Boys.

Peter earns $8.50 an hour in his clerk job, and works on his skills at the center’s computer lab in his spare
time. He watches a lot of television and movies, citing “Rush Hour” as a favorite film. Like many of his
brothers, he says he wants to earn enough money to move back home to Sudan, find his missing family,
marry and help rebuild the war-ravaged country. For now, Peter remains a homebody, struggling to make it
day to day in Phoenix.

Jany, the center’s outreach coordinator, shares Peter’s ambitions, as do a great majority of their brothers, of
helping to rebuild Sudan. These days, of course, the country faces a grave crisis in the western region of
Darfur, where genocide at the hands of the notorious government-backed Janjaweed militias has created a
new generation of physically and psychologically brutalized refugees. To date, the U.S. government has not
formally resettled any of them here.

Jany points out that the prospect for peace darkened considerably on July 30, when longtime southern
Sudanese rebel leader and newly elected Vice President John Garang died in a helicopter crash, plunging
the country’s fragile peace into an unknown future — and hitting the Lost Boys community across America
with a new wave of grief and fear. “It’s a huge blow,” Jany says. He adds that many Sudanese people don’t
believe Garang’s death was an accident, and fears that the Sudanese regime is going to kill more of his
community’s leaders back home. “It’s on everybody’s mind,” Jany says.

The plight of his fellow refugees in America also continues to weigh heavily on him. Jany, who plans to
graduate next May from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in social work, says he loves his
work counseling his brothers and helping them to find and keep jobs. But cultural differences, he
acknowledges, continue to exacerbate the Lost Boys’ problems. In Sudan, he says, young people don’t trust
police, who regularly kill civilians. “We were taught to fight our own battles,” Jany says. So it’s no surprise,
he continues, that many Lost Boys in America are wary of police and governmental authorities.

Some Lost Boys also have had trouble adjusting to American sexual mores. Unfamiliar with America’s
system of dating, Jany says, the younger men sometimes mistake friendliness for sexual interest, and so
being rejected by women can stoke feelings of frustration and alienation, and even lead to violence.

Eight years after his brother’s death, Jany keeps his spirits up by immersing himself in his work at the
center. He is also a marathon runner, which he calls his passion and “getaway thing” — he has qualified for
next year’s Boston Marathon. He says he’s so busy taking care of everyone else that he sometimes doesn’t
look after himself enough. Jany seldom has the energy to make it through his homework after a full day of
school and work. He has suffered from anemia; he collapsed last January while running a marathon.

Last December, he fell asleep behind the wheel of his car. The car flipped over three times and was totaled,
but luckily Jany managed to escape without a scratch. Lately, he says, his grades have started to slip and he
sometimes feels dizzy — yet, his own training aside, he says he isn’t sure what else he should do. “I’m
abusing myself,” he says, smiling, when asked if he thinks he might suffer from PTSD.

Aydin Bal, a researcher and doctoral candidate at Arizona State University who has worked extensively with
Arizona’s Lost Boys, affirms that the upbeat image of this remarkable group of survivors is authentic. In
spite of a harrowing past, he says, they remain determined to fit in and succeed in America.

“They have spite of a harrowing past, he says, they remain determined to fit in and succeed in America. “They have
shown an enormous amount of resiliency,” Bal says. “Of course they are not trying to find food or drinking
water now,” he says. “But they are still trying to find their past, their memory.”

Unfortunately, support services for the Lost Boys are drying up. According to Wheat, if the Arizona center
can’t raise $250,000 before a core grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services expires on
Sept. 30, the doors will close. Several Lost Boys organizations in other U.S. cities are also strapped for
funds. In 2002, the federal government’s Office of Refugee Resettlement cut general mental health funding,
previously about $2.8 million per year, from its budget.

In the meantime, some Lost Boys in America who struggled the most with fear and grief reverted to the one
way of escape they knew best. Earlier this year, a 23-year-old Lost Boy, diagnosed with schizophrenia and
convinced that people wanted to kill him, disappeared from his home in Syracuse. By June, he’d wandered
more than 2,100 miles to Mexico City.

And then there was Abil, the Lost Boy who was shot and killed on
the Arizona freeway. “After all the miles he walked in Africa to escape hell, he returned to walking,” Wheat
says. “I wonder where he was heading. I wonder if he knew.”

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About the writer

Leigh Flayton is a freelance writer
based in Phoenix.