The ‘Lost Boys’ meet a president

Photo: George W. Bush presidential library.

Something pretty neat happened to the Lost Boys of Sudan today when they were touring the presidential library of George W. Bush. They got to meet a president, the Dallas Morning News reports, when President Bush surprised them.

The lost boys, now men, escaped the war between the north and south regions of Sudan. The north was primarily Muslim, the south Christian. Most of the boys were orphaned by the killings. About 90 percent of them have become American citizens since arriving in the county, the paper says, and more than 60 have graduated from college.

“What President Bush did was really nice for us,” [Mamer] Demamer said. “We admire him, because the independence we got in Southern Sudan in 2011 is because of George W. Bush.”

Erjok Erjok was just 5-years-old when he fled South Sudan. Now the 33-year-old is a captain in the U.S. Army and was stationed in Iraq from 2010 to 2011.

He said he felt obligated to join the military in 2005 after learning “what the country had done for me.”

“It was a great feeling to serve the nation that has served me, that has given me so much, and has continued to,” he said. “In 2005, America as a nation worked hard to bring the 22-year civil war to an end. So it was like a double obligation … it gave me an opportunity to come over here, go to school and pursue the American dream.”

“They’ve made the most of what life has given them,” said the head of an organization in the Dallas area that helps the boys. “They don’t complain, they don’t want handouts, they work hard, they are honest and they love God and this country. They just take what life throws at them and handle it with such grace.”

A civil war broke out in 2013. Many of the “boys” still have some relatives in the region and, in a question and answer session with the president and his wife today, some asked him to help end the suffering there.

People from Thonyor, South Sudan, examine photographs of former residents of Thonyor now living in Internally Displaced People (IDP) camps across the country on February 3, 2016.
The photographs were posted in order to help people identify lost relatives who fled their village after armed clashes between Army forces and Sudan People’s liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO) in October 2015, following a brief takeover of the neighbour town of Leer by rebel forces. The clashes were followed with intensive looting by armed men who entered humanitarian compounds and stole equipment, medical supplies and money. Thonyor is still under control of the opposition movement. Photo: Albert Gonzalez/AFP/Getty Images.

“The danger is that sometimes in America there is a sentiment that says ‘Who cares what happens elsewhere? Let’s focus inward,’ which I think is very unhealthy. One of the things we do here is continue to remind Americans about how we can help others and the need to help others,” the president said.

But he said other than urge future presidents to focus on the civil war in Sudan, his ability is limited because he’s not president anymore.