It’s the middle of the night as you are jolted from your sleep. Your ears are ringing with the sounds of gun shots and people screaming. All of a sudden your nose is filled with the acrid smell of smoke, and you realize quickly that your home has been set on fire. As you duck through the doorway of your hut and you step outside a wave of fear sweeps over you as you see that the entire village has been set on fire. Soldiers are running between the huts shooting and killing anyone in sight. You search for your parents looking for help, for protection, for security but your search is in vain.
You begin to run out of the village towards the bush, but it’s so dark you can barely make out the path. The sounds of the soldiers are getting closer, they are coming. One hundred meters separates you from the sanctuary of the jungle or capture at the hands of enemy soldiers. One hundred meters separates you from an unknown future or certain death. You run as fast as your little legs can carry you. At last you make it into the bush and thankfully the sound of soldiers is growing more faint. As your heart pounds within your chest you decide to hazard one last glance, as you turn you see your entire village burning, the only world you have ever know is going up in smoke.
You stand there in the jungle at the tender age of six, surrounded by other children of similar ages with a handful of teenagers trying to calm you down and gather you together. They have made the decision to head east further into the jungle away from the fighting. How far you ask? To Ethiopia, out of Sudan and away from the war and fighting. As you begin the several hundred mile journey you look back at your village and wonder, if you will ever see your home again, and more importantly what has happened to your family?
The journey is long and arduous, and constantly fraught with danger. Always on the watch for enemy soldiers, constantly aware of what will happen to you if you are caught. You have seen it happen before, as they march the children in front of the soldiers to clear the minefields, or sending them back to Khartoum to spend the rest of their days in slavery. Your goal is clear, you must make it to Ethiopia. Whatever it takes, whatever the risks or danger, safety lies across the boarder.
Finally you arrive in Ethiopia after traveling more than five hundred miles on foot. The war is far off to the west, you are finally safe. After a time of peace and rest war breaks out in Ethiopia, and now you are on the move, again. Looking for safety, trying to find some place that you can call home.
After another journey of three hundred miles you arrive in a Sudanese refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya. As you settle into life in the refugee camp, you become quickly aware that you are somewhat of a prisoner, whatever happens in the camp you can not leave. This place is far from the war, but is also far from ideal. The camp is located out in the semi-arid desert, so it is hot, and water is scarce. Attaining medical attention is very difficult, if not impossible. Doctors don’t want to be here, and there is never enough medicine to meet the needs. Security and protection are a problem because there is no one here to police nearly 70, 000 people.
Your only hope out of this perpetual hell, is to obtain refugee status and be taken in by a western country. However, that’s about as likely as winning the lottery. This is the life and struggle of Sudan’s Lost Boys. But for many their story does not end here!