A Loving Dispatch

The Lost Boys of Sudan
by Charlie Loving / The Rag Blog / Feb. 24, 2008

I was in San Antonio this week as a delegate to the Diocese of West Texas, hobnobbing with bishops and the powers that be in the Iglesia.

The politics of the church are quite fascinating. I met a wonderful member of the House of Lords who is doing incredible things in Sudan, Liberia, Armenia, and other killing fields that are sites of genocide. I have her new book on slavery in the world today. There are over 27,000,000 slaves out there now.

The story of the Lost Boys of Sudan is compelling. Peter Alier is a member of the Adinka tribe. In 1987 he was seven years old. There was an early morning raid on his village by Muslim slave traders. These people kill the men and take the children and women. Peter’s mother and sisters ran into the bush. Peter with no shoes and only his shorts ran into the bush in another direction. He hid with his six year old brother as the village was burned to the ground. When the coast was clear he wandered into the ruins and searched for his family to no avail. He was joined by a small group of children. And they started on their long trek to Ethiopia. They walked 1,000 miles taking three months. They ate roots and berries and were chased by animals and stoned by people.

In Ethiopia they were placed in a camp. The camp was full, 26,000 children. They lived on a cup of oil, a cup of beans and two kilos of maize a month when it was available. For four years they were in the camp and then civil war broke out in Ethiopia. The army came and sent them packing. They were told to leave. They set off to return to the Sudan. They were chased by guerrillas. The rainy season was upon them and they were faced with the problem of a flooded river. They took logs and swam the river. The Ethiopian army shot at them. Many drowned. Many were shot. Crocodiles ate many of them. They had to travel by night as they were bombed and strafed by planes. They finally arrived at Pochalla, Sudan only to be bombed and strafed by the Sudanese. So once again the set off, this time toward Kenya. They were chased by Muslims. They had to walk at night. Many of the children were captured by slavers.

At one point they had to traverse a valley and their scouts reported that the Arabs had set up a complex ambush ahead. They seemed to know the situation was hopeless. Then as if by some miracle it began to rain. It had been dry as a bone for weeks. The rain came in torrents. The children lined up single file and in total silence waded through the valley and through the ambush that had been dispersed by the storm. The rain continued for two days and allowed the children to get far enough away to be somewhat safe.

Peter saw his brother eaten by a lion on the trek. Other children were attacked by hyenas and other predators.

They arrived in Kenya. They were not all that welcome. Of the 26,000 that started only 16,000 made it. Today the children are still in Kenyan camps. Much older now but still lost. The U.S. has allowed 4,500 to enter the country among them Peter. He recently went back to the Sudan and found his mother whom he hadn’t seen in 19 years. He did not recognize her or his sisters.

I talked to Peter Thursday and he is an amazing person. He is not bitter. He stands six four and may weigh 120 pounds. He survived somehow from the age of seven till today. He attributes it to faith in God. An amazing story, and not the only one I have heard over the last few years. The missionaries who go to Sudan and Africa and these places have recruited me heavily to join them. I have nothing to offer as I see it but still they ask me to get on board. And maybe I will. They are evangelical people, just good people who want to make a difference.

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