Written by John Bul Dau, Michael S. Sweeney
Published by National Geographic (2007)
If a person left his home country due to a war, would he be a refugee? Surely, he seems to be a refugee. In reality, however, he’s not, according to the 1951 Refugee Convention. He reached another country through hard moments. He witnessed his friends’ and family’s death right in front of him, comforting himself with saying that he was able to avoid those deaths to himself. Luckily, Sudanese people who left their homes due to the civil war are granted the state of refugee, but still in many countries, they are not recognized as refugees.
‘God Grew Tired of Us’ is a story-telling book which describes how a Sudanese boy underwent the civil war and went to the United States through neighboring countries. The author, John bul Dau is a real Sudanese refugee who went through this war, and he’s been living in U.S. as a resettled refugee. Those resettled Sudanese refugees in the States are called ‘Lost Boys.’ John’s hometown is a village called Duk Payuell. This village was not a rich countryside but a peaceful hometown to tribe Dinka. However, his peaceful childhood finished with the attack of Islamic militia. From that day, he couldn’t know if his family was alive or not. Only to avoid a death, did he go to Kenya through Ethiopia and Sudan by foot.
Many things happened. While walking, he couldn’t eat or drink anything for over ten days, and he was hit by soldiers a lot. He saw a lot of friends who were shot and swam across the swamp where a lot of crocodiles were about to kill him. Also, he struggled with dirty water and insects. Finally, he arrived at the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, spending all his childhood there. He left his home when he was 13 and lived in the camp till 2001, when he got 27. He didn’t know whether his family was alive or not, and the life of the camp was poor. But this boy, John Bul Dau never threw away his hope and future for his hard 14 years. He always thought about his future and was positive and thankful for the things given to him.
When he boarded the airplane to U.S. in August, 2001, he would have thought he got the compensation for his life. He settled in Syracuse, New York, U.S., married, and brought his mother and sister after he found his family. He graduated from a community college and entered Syracuse University. He was enthusiastic about education, so he established a foundation that gives scholarship to the Sudanese refugees. Diligent John is now carrying out a project which opens a hospital in his hometown.
I really had a misconception about refugees before I really met them and read a book which I can see what they really think. I thought they must be surely angry with the world and negative based on their experience, but it was totally wrong. The refugees who I’ve met and I’ve heard about are thankful to the world and laugh a lot. By seeing them, we need to think about how thankful we’re to our surroundings and how much we like our world. This book made me so happy with making me meet those who were very positive and happy. I’d like to end this review with John’s saying. “Hope is never lost how long we have to walk and how far we have to walk.”
Intern Yoonjeong You