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God Grew Tired of Us by John Bul Dau

John Bul Dau’s memoir describes his happy childhood in the Sudan, Africa’s largest country, where heGod_grew  was a member of the Dinka tribe. Their culture was based on cattle, with milk as a major part of the diet, and they had been converted to Christianity. In 1987, when John was twelve years old, refugees from the country’s civil war poured into his village. In the middle of the night, he was lying, restless and awake, in a hut with his siblings and some of the refugee children when the fighting suddenly came to the village. As shells set the huts ablaze, he became separated from his family but managed to escape, with the help of a kindly neighbor. All material goods, even his clothing, were left behind as he fled for his life.

Many of those escaping from the war zone were young boys who became known as the Lost Boys. They faced hunger and starvation, savage beasts, and enemy soldiers. Finally John and other survivors reached a refugee camp in Ethiopia. However, the Ethiopians forced them to leave. Thousands of Lost Boys walked for hundreds of miles to a refugee camp in Kenya. There John received an education, learning to read at the age of eighteen. At last, the United States began to accept some of the Lost Boys as refugees, and John’s turn finally came in 2001. He settled in Syracuse, New York, with only ninety days to find a job and become financially self-sufficient. Church members helped the Lost Boys, finding apartments for them, supplying furniture and appliances, and teaching them the wonders of grocery stores, microwaves, and other features of modern American life. John was determined to continue his education, to send money to help people in Africa, to balance his Dinka values with the American lifestyle, to find his family members and bring at least some of them to the United States, and to find a Dinka woman to marry. Although he faced challenges almost as great as those in the African wilds, he has been amazingly successful in meeting  his goals.

This book is of special interest to people in the Greensboro area because some of the Lost Boys have settled here.

(Helen Snow, Information Services)


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