Nearly 30,000 young men and women, displaced and/or orphaned by civil war in Sudan came to be known as the “Lost Boys of Sudan”, a name given to them by aid workers in recognition of their tragic situation. Fleeing violence in their home villages, they walked hundreds of miles first to refugee camps in Ethiopia and then, after war broke out there, to camps in Kenya. Crossing dangerous territory, including desert lands, they faced hunger, dehydration, illness and attacks by crocodiles, hippos, and enemy gunfire.
The “Lost Boys” made American news headlines in 2001 when the US granted asylum to 3800 “Lost Boys” and 80 “Lost Girls”.
Three of those “Lost Boys” are profiled in Rebuilding Hope, a documentary by local filmmaker Jen Marlowe that is screenign as part of the Seattle True Independent Film Festival (STIFF) at 7:00 pm on June 6 at Northwest Film Forum and at 4:00 pm on June 9 at the Rendezvous Jewel Box Theater. Marlowe will be in attendance for a Q&A session at both screenings.
As young children Gabriel Bol Deng, Koor Garang, and Garang Mayuol each escaped from their home villages and made it to the refugee camp where they formed a strong friendship that endured their eventual separation to three different cities in the US. Torn from their families by war, they became a family of their own, keeping in touch by telephone across the miles as they grew into adulthood. As young adults grateful for their opportunities but ever mindful of the homes and families they left behind, the three reunited for a trip back to Sudan to find out if their families survived, survey the situation in their homeland first-hand and try to help their villages rebuild after the devastation of war.
The film begins with an introduction to each of the young men telling their personal history in a simple, straightforward manner that effectively communicates the horror of war: the matter-of-fact way each of these men talks about about surviving the unimaginable speaks volumes about the tragedy they’ve outlasted. Arriving in Sudan, the trio are overwhelmed by the devastation all around them. While they try to locate their surviving family members, they must also struggle with the intense need of their country men. The aid they’ve brought with them is a genuine relief for those they are able to assist, but the demand for assistance vastly outweighs their ability to provide it. In one particularly heartwrenching segment, a man who can barely walk manages to cross many miles for the hope of getting a mosquito net to help protect his five young children from malaria only to discover that there are no more tents to be had.
Rebuilding Hope is a sobering examination of the difficulties in building a lasting peace in a land torn asunder by violence. It is not enough that there are no more bullets being fired, say the Sudanese – there must also be food and water, education, health care and opportunity. Fully aware of the magnitude of the many complex issues in need of resolution, Deng, Garang, and Mayuol are nevertheless determined to do all that they can do. Rebuilding Hope offers a glimmer of hope for the future by showing the valuable work that each man has done so far: digging a well, building a school and training local Sudanese in providing health care. Each has made a solid start, but there’s still many miles to go for these and all of the Lost Boys, the families, and their homes.
All proceeds from Rebuilding Hope go to support the health care, education and water projects the trio have initiated. Fore