Sunday, November 28, 2010

When Lost Boys Grow Up

On January 9th, 2011, Southern Sudan will vote in a referendum to decide if they will split from the north and form their own country. This will not only slightly remap the African continent, but also draw to a close a 50-year liberation struggle in which the Christian south mostly fought against the Arab north. One of the consequences of this long conflict were the Lost Boys of Sudan, more than 27,000 boys of Nuer and Dinka ethnic groups who were displaced and/or orphaned during the Sudanese Civil War. About 4,000 were resettled in the United States.

Jeffrey Gettleman's article in this weekend's New York Times chronicle's one Lost Boy's - Joseph Gatyoung Khan - homecoming to his village to participate in the Southern Sudan referendum. After leaving his village at the age of 8, Khan was settled in the United States, working his way from the midnight shift at a casino to a university education at the University of Iowa. He hasn't seen his parents in over 20 years. The following video from The New York Times, shows Khan returning to his village and the mixed emotions he feels upon his arrival.

What I find most interesting is when he says that the world doesn't need him, but his village does need him. I wonder what Khan will be able to do for his village if, indeed, he decides to stay. There are so many valuable human resources that leave villages like Khan's because of war and conflict and poverty. Imagine what great things they can do once they return.

Khan has not yet decided if he will stay in Southern Sudan.

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