Civil war has been going off and on in Sudan since the 1950s. In the early 80s, though, violence intensified and millions of Sudanese people were removed from their homes (the death toll from the fighting is two million). Two kids that fled were John and Martha. Both were separated from their parents and had to rely on the kindness of others to survive.
The book alternates between those two narrators. What makes their story that much more compelling is that they don’t exaggerate their story to make it more exciting. There are no embellishments, just straight facts. In one chapter, John describes what it’s like to choose to swim in a river infested with crocodiles because men in Jeeps are shooting at the refugee children. Martha describes life on miles worth of road as she takes care of her three year-old sister. Martha was six at the time.
Lost Boy, Lost Girl: Escaping Civil War in Sudan is a necessary read. Not only is it informative, but it is challenging. As much as we hear complaints about the United States, it was encouraging to hear both refugees say, “We need to get to America” to try and start a new life. That safe-haven is a reminder of what makes the United States such a great place to live.
John Dau is now an activist for health care in Sudan and has his own foundation that set up a clinic to help the people of his hometown. You can click here to learn more.