Young boys — some as young as three or four —forced to walk over 1,000 miles to find refuge, with little food and water or protection from wild animals and enemy soldiers created lasting bonds among the young refugees and those who learned their story.
Atem Da’Hajhock, one of an estimated 30,000 children who fled the Sudan, banded with children from other tribes and regions to walk over 1000 miles to safety. “I think that even if you read history books throughout time, you will never read of children burying other children such as we did,” he said.
Joan Hecht, the author of “The Journey of the Lost Boys,” and Da’Hajhock will tell their story at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 24, in Jack’s Place in The Union at South Dakota State University.
Hecht first met the Lost Boys in 2001, when approximately 3,800 were granted refugee status in the United States and 150 settled in her hometown of Jacksonville, Fla. As she witnessed their desire to improve their lives and receive an education, she founded the Alliance for the Lost Boys of Sudan.
Since then, the Alliance has helped over 55 Lost Boys and Sudanese refugees with college tuition, books and medical assistance. They also support other humanitarian projects in South Sudan, including the construction of clinics, schools and housing for children in orphanages.
Da’Hajhock regularly joins Hecht on speaking engagements across the U.S. to help raise awareness for the people of Southern Sudan and gain financial support for the Alliance.
Hecht’s close relationship with the lost boys allows her to tell their story of survival, diversity and love in a unique and profound way.
The event is free to SDSU students and community members.
Contact Samantha Wangberg at 605-688-6173 for more information.
Photo: Joan Hecht, author of “The Journey of the Lost Boys,” travels to U.S. communities to raise awareness about their struggles and her determination to make a difference through her non-profit foundation. In 2008, she traveled to New York City with, on either side of her, from left, Lost Boys Atem and Ajok.