English 101


An Old Essay on the Lost Boys of Sudan

Many people believe that the problem of the Lost Boys is of the past, but it still persists as a major issue of today. The Lost Boys are people who lost everything by fleeing persecution by Muslims in Northern and Southern Sudan. They spent many years walking across Africa to refugee camps in Ethiopia or northern Kenya, such as the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya, to escape the horrors and war in their home. Many of the remaining Lost Boys now reside in refugee camps, where they have barely any means of living. Some refugees are selected to come to America in hopes of an improved life. After coming to America, the boys are given a couple months to settle and search for a job; most end up working menial jobs and sending their earnings back to Sudan to help their loved ones who were left behind. There are other programs that donate and try to improve the life in Africa for the refugees, such as building schools and medical facilities. Many of the victims suffer from dehydration and hunger, so there are donation organizations that provide them with nourishment. The best way to contribute to the Lost Boys’ well being is for the Sudanese refugees to remain in Africa, but only if they gain more support and increase the amount of schools, medical care, and food available to improve their living circumstances; working for a new Sudan.

It is very difficult for the Lost Boys to get chosen to move to America. The American government has strict conditions for who is allowed to come to America and who is not. Many of the refugees are infected with diseases such as HIV, so they are not allowed into the U.S. Another constraint is that girls rarely ever get picked to come to America. The boys are the ones who have more education to begin with, so a lot of Lost Girls are already used as servants, married off at young ages, put into slavery, or adopted into families. However, “many foster-parents - it seems – [do] not have the girls’ welfare at heart” because they can be “sold off for a good bride price” or work as an “unpaid servant” (Matheson). When the Lost Boys move to America, they are removed from their own culture and community. They have to give up parts of their culture and their social customs from Africa, because actions such as boys holding hands are not acceptable in America. Many boys who have moved to cities in America find themselves feeling lonely in a strange, new environment. Socially, it is hard for them to make friends, especially for those who do not speak English very well. Also, African Americans from the U.S. do not usually tolerate the Lost Boys because they view them as people looking for handouts. Some Lost Boys end up trying to fit in by becoming gangsters because that is how they see a lot of African Americans portrayed. After everything these people have lost, they do not deserve to lose their Dinka culture and community too. There are also many negative aspects of the job situation in America.

When first starting out in America, life may seem unproblematic; however, there are many setbacks to the Lost Boys’ living situations. They are typically given some money and rent for three months. They live in small groups of Lost Boys in an apartment. But some of them get jealous of others because their sponsor was not supporting them as well as one of the other Lost Boys. “But getting an education has turned out to be the Lost Boys biggest problem” and “the lucky ones were those judged to be below the age of 18” (Goffe). Although they are sponsored for a period of time, they end up working at low-paying jobs if they are too old for high school, or if they do not have enough money to take themselves through college (Goffe). When regular American people already have trouble finding jobs of their own, how can people expect the Lost Boys to be able to do any better when they are experiencing such large culture shock? When the Lost Boys first come to the U.S., they have never seen such simple things like a flashlight or a two story building because back in the refugee camps they live in small huts with no electricity. Even if they do have a job, most of their earnings are used for giving back to Sudan to support their community. As for the ones that can not make it on their own in America, they seem to disappear and their sponsors lose track of them because they weren’t able to support themselves. A number of them end up homeless or being part of a gang. Therefore, a better way to help these Lost Boys is to contribute to improving the living situation back in their homeland.

Since the early 1980s, there has been little maintenance of schools in Sudan. Recently, there has been an increase in organizations trying to help out their way of life there. Many associations, such as HELP Sudan, have started new schools and provided school supplies and “education for minds that only have understood war” (Direct Change). Still, to this day, the Lost Boys have to walk more than 75 miles to see a doctor, so many children keep dying of diseases that are treatable (Direct Change). People are dying of curable diseases every day and America has the opportunity to make a difference by making new medical clinics. This will help the Lost Boys live longer, healthier lives without removing them from their culture and customs. There are now organizations, like the Duk Lost Boys Clinic, that originate in America that take donations to build medical clinics, hire more staff, buy vaccinations, and buy medicine in Sudan. However, there needs to be an increase of support for these types of programs because of the misconception that moving to America will bring the Lost Boys and Girls new happiness.

Overall, it is better for the Lost Boys and Girls to remain in Africa with an increase in the aid that America and other places give to them; specifically in terms of medical care, food, and education. Even though there are negative sides for the boys and girls to remain in the camps, there are more issues for them when placed in America. They experience more hardships than needed when being resettled. If all the energy being put into organizations that resettle the Lost Boys was added to the organizations that contribute to the bettering of their lifestyle back in Africa, then there would be many more positive effects. Today, the refugee camps do not give the Lost Boys good living situations and they eat very minimally. These types of concerns could be improved with more involvement in organizations trying to improve the lifestyles in Sudan. There are few Lost Boys who do gain a better life in America, but the majority does not do so well. So, it is more beneficial to support the development of the lifestyles in Sudan. “America [is not] paradise and it [is not] as easy as they told you in the camps,” says Lost Boy Samuel (Goffe). The real lesson to be learned here is that by coming to the U.S., the boys should not expect to experience the American dream or to be any freer; America is the dreamland for very few refugees.

Works Cited

"Direct Change." Duk Lost Boys Clinic. <http://directchange.org/partners/sudan-health/>.

Goffe, Leslie. “Sudan’s ‘Lost Boys’ of Sudan.” BBC News. 31 Aug. 2004. 19 Jan. 2009.

Matheson, Ishbel. “The ‘Lost Girls’ of Sudan.” BBC News World Edition. 7 June 2002. 4

Jan. 2009. < http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/2031286.stm>

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