Duk, Sudan – a place of terrible memory and a place of hope. Muwt’s story began here, where will it end no one knows. By a extreme case of coincedience I met Muwt the other night at an African Culture Week student panel event. He talked about a group he was part of that was working to build a health clinic in their former home village. It sounded like a great opportunity for my own organization to get involved. After the event I talked to Muwt and found out that there was an art gallery event just nearby to benefit the health clinic. Since I had actually met the artist, who was putting on the show, a year earlier I decided to join him.
I knew Muwt was one of the many Lost Boys of Sudan living in the Lansing area, but I had not yet heard his story. The art was amazing – a collaborative effort of both the student artist and the Lost Boys. The art was created as a sort of art therapy project to help the Lost Boys express themselves as well as helping the artist express her emotions from learning the stories of the Lost Boys. As a child, Muwt lost his parents from the civil war between the North and South in Sudan which began over religious laws. He and other young boys fled so as not to be killed by the militias attempting to put down the South’s rebellion. The Lost Boys traveled across the vast deserts of Sudan, to the border to Ethiopia, chased away at gunpoint, back southern Sudan, to the border of Kenya, and finally into Kenya. This is a poor paraphrasing of the incredible tale he told so eloquently and I cannot hope to give voice to the difficult stories told by so many Lost Boys.
Muwt finally eneded with a degree of safety in a refugee camp in Kenya for nine years, until a group of Americans met him and wanted to bring him and some other lost boys back to the States. Muwt was set to leave for America on September 9th, 2001. He was caught up in the Amsterdam airport shortly after on September 11th. A defining day for the US’s foreign policy was shared as a defining day for Muwt. Lansing happens to be one of the top spots for refugee relocation and Muwt was assisted by the Lutheran Social Services to adjust to life in the US. Since that time Muwt and other Lost Boys have been brought into the US. They have gotten jobs at many of the area businesses and attend the local colleges and universities.
When they left Sudan the Lost Boys did not forget where they came from. For many there was no way that they could forget. Lost Boys have created organizations, written books, and given speaking presentations. The group of Lost Boys that Muwt is part of has started a foundation to build a health clinic in Duk Payuel to provide health services since any other medical facility is far away. A story of hope has given birth the a life giving clinic in an area of Sudan that has seen much war and destruction. From hope springs life.