By Tracy Dubois, Support Staff
While most 5 year olds are learning to read and ride a bike without training wheels, Deng Jongkuch was running for his life across the African desert. Sudan’s civil war claimed more than 2 million lives and caused Deng to be separated from his family for 18 years. Deng is one of the Lost Boys of Sudan.
His horrific past started in 1987 when he walked for three months to find refuge in Ethiopia. Roughly 20,000 unaccompanied minors began the journey, but only 16,000 remained when the group arrived at the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya in 1992.
The Lost Boys created makeshift families to survive, and the refugee camps provided security, food rations, donated clothing, and basic education. Deng began his schooling in Ethiopia but completed high school in Kakuma.
After living in refugee camps for 14 years, Deng’s life took an unexpected turn when he was given the opportunity to resettle in the United States. Through a government bill sponsored by the United Nations, Deng moved to San Jose, California, in March 2001 with 58 fellow Lost Boys. He earned an associate’s degree before graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in health services administration and a master’s in public health.
Deng lived in America until 2011 and now serves as site administrator at Memorial Christian Hospital in Werkok, South Sudan.
“I returned to Sudan for the first time in 2005 after 18 years,” Deng stated. “The war destroyed the healthcare system, and people are dying from preventable diseases. This tragic situation inspires me to be part of the change in Sudan. I am showing them love by praying for them and taking care of their needs.”
MORE: Watch the docu-mentary God Grew Tired of Us to learn more about the Lost Boys of Sudan and to see firsthand how love helped them survive.