a blog about cents, in every form & measure

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

God Grew Tired of Us

Last night I watched a powerful film titled "God Grew Tired of Us," which explored the story of the Sudanese "Lost Boys." The documentary began by charting the course that thousands of young boys took as they fled from Sudan to Ethiopia, crossing hundreds of miles of harsh desert landscape as they escaped almost certain death as caused by civil war and the brutality of rebel soldiers. Hungry, tired, battling disease, with no shoes and merely strips of clothing (if lucky), these boys walked step after step towards an unknown destination - all they wanted and needed was an escape. Little did they know that even as their numbers would decrease by more than half due to starvation, they would not arrive at some Holy Land. In Ethiopia they found a camp not prepared for their needs in terms of food and shelter; they waited it out for two years and then proceeded south by foot once more towards safety.

Enter the Kukuma camp. A UN camp in Kenya, this is where the Lost Boys were able to establish some sense of normalcy and community, although amidst circumstances where a day or two without food during the week was de rigueur. It was here that the Boys played soccer and met in Parliament, the bond over burying the bodies of their brothers (and sisters) complete.

As mentioned though, this camp was far from paradise, with its continuous food shortages, clearly marked boundaries, and limited educational opportunities. The dream for many then, after ten long years spent in Kukuma, was for the Boys to be able to secure American visas through the International Rescue Committee.

The film follows four of the Lost Boys as they travel from Kukuma to their final destinations in America (two settle Pittsburgh, PA & Syracuse, NY) and encounter electricity, potato chips, flushing toilets, the struggles of balancing multiple jobs and maintaining hope as they endeavor to support the boys left behind in Africa while finding whatever is left of the families whom they had once thought lost forever.

This movie made me cry more than once, as I sat on my leather couch eating my delivered (pizza again, I had a craving..) dinner in my high rise condo (and I am almost always the type to hold back tears...what does that tell you?). The pure emotion that these boys displayed on camera, the succinct and clear way they articulated their feelings (their English diction & vocabulary put mine to shame), the grace with which they worked two or three jobs as a welcome opportunity & the zeal which they embraced education and fought for awareness of their cause....it was breathtaking. I can't help but get emotional again thinking about it - this is a life-changing film. The images and words will be burned into your mind long after the film's final credits have flickered on the screen. The way with which we view immigrants, Africans, UN refugee camps, the crisis in Sudan, and our American comforts will be altered. Even something as simple as a film can change you, and this is a film that will stay with me forever.

Here is an excerpt from the book of the same name, authored by John Bul Dau (one of the "boys" featured in the book). The spirituality and maturity conveyed by his words leaves me nothing short of amazed.

"I have witnessed my share of death and despair. I have seen the hyenas come at dusk to feed on the bodies of my friends. I have been so hungry and thirsty in the dusty plains of Africa that I consumed things I would rather forget. I have crossed a crocodile-infested river while being shelled and shot at. I have walked until I thought I could walk no more. I have wondered, more times than I can count, if my friends or I would live to see a new day. Those were the times I thought God had grown tired of us...They call me a Lost Boy, but let me assure you, God has found me." (p. 7)

If you are interested, John Bul Dau has a foundation which helps set up medical clinics & trains workers in Sudan. People are always asking for help (handouts galore!), but do take a look at his site

No comments:

Post a Comment