If you’re like us, you’ve probably heard about the Lost Boys of Sudan. Their journey started when civil war erupted in Sudan and then was followed by a severe famine and a second civil war. As a result, more than 5.5 million Sudanese were uprooted from their homes. A 1998 study by the U.S. Committee for Refuges estimated that 1.9 million people died from war-related causes.
Tragically, 30,000 to 40,000 children were forced to flee their country. They walked through jungles and deserts. Some died when they encountered lions, crocodiles or hyenas, and others died from snakebites, dehydration, starvation or exhaustion. Many who survived the dangerous journey ended up spending years in refugee camps.
However, by 1999, 4,000 Sudanese boys and 89 girls were living in the United States. In her book Dark Exodus—The Lost Girls of Sudan, Beverly Parkhurst Moss explains that more boys survived because they often were out in the country herding cattle and sheep when their villages were attacked. Also, many girls were enslaved or brutally raped.
When Moss discovered that some of the Lost Girls live in the Dallas area, she was inspired to write a book about their “courage and tenacity.” Each of them possesses “an indomitable spirit,” she says.
One of the girls she writes about is Margaret Kuol, who was 12 when she was forced to flee. “Day after day, I walked,” she says. “Images of the devil-soldiers, hyenas, lions, snakes, fear of spider bites, hunger and unrelenting thirst—these were the things that occupied my mind. When I got too hungry and there was nothing to eat, I chewed on grass and leaves. I got boils in my mouth and blisters on my face. The sun is so hot in the desert that it can fry you. I knew that I did not dare lie down because, if I did, I would not get up again.”
But Margaret survived and, eventually, came to the United States. “If there’s anything I have learned it is to never give up hope,” she says.