Tonight I had the pleasure of watching Hollywood’s version of storytelling the tragedies and triumphs of the “Lost Boys of Sudan” in the 2014 film, “The Good Lie”. I must say that I initially had some hesitations, but was really impressed overall with the entirety of the film. The acting was on par (many of the actors are actually survivors of the refugee camps themselves), the storyline was genuine, and every minute of the movie tugged at my heartstrings.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the story of the “Lost Boys of Sudan”, I highly recommend doing some quick reading/research. It is a terribly depressing and horrific part of history, but it is also moving to see a group of people come together as “brothers” to protect one another and simply try to survive despite the unfathomable terrors surrounding them.
The Lost Boys of Sudan were collectively given their name when roughly twenty-thousand displaced children and orphans trekked thousands of miles in the late 1980’s to seek refuge in a camp in Kakuma, Kenya after being ambushed in what was known as the Second Sudanese war. I won’t get into too much of the history, because it is worth researching and educating yourself if you are interested.
Honestly, until a few years ago, I can say with one hundred percent certainty, that I knew nothing about this group of people, this war, this struggle and struggles similar to these. I know, how naive of me. I grew up in a small, predominantly Caucasian town in Southern New Hampshire, and not to knock my school or education, but I do not remember learning about topics such as these. Yes, it is very depressing and upsetting to learn about what these people went through, lived through, died through, but it is real life. It puts things into perspective.
I first learned about this population a few years back during my junior/senior year of undergraduate school at the University of Vermont when some fellow classmates and I were assigned to put together an educational presentation to a group of resettled African refugees in our community- Association for Africans Ling in Vermont, (AALV).
What a lot of people don’t know (myself included prior to my education and time living here) is that teeny tiny Burlington, Vermont is a location that is part a national refugee resettlement program that houses those seeking refuge and asylum from their country of origin. I can’t even begin to explain how foreign it must be to some of these people to come from living in a village in the deserts of Africa to living in subsidized housing in Burlington, Vermont- a place where people talk different, dress different, eat different , do everything different. I could continue to go on and on, but I digress. For anyone interested, I highly recommend doing some research and watching some documentaries and movies that touch upon this subject.
My personal favorite is a documentary from 2006 entitled “God Grew Tired of Us”.
Secondly, the movie I began speaking about at the beginning of this post, “The Good Lie” is an excellent (in my opinion) Hollywood redo per-say of the “God Grew Tired of Us” storyline.
I encourage you to learn more about this population- do some research, do some reading, watch these films, talk with these people if you have the opportunity. I work in Burlington, VT so a lot of the staff and patients at my job are immigrants and refugees and although we generally tend to think that they can learn a lot from us and our culture, we too can learn a lot from them if we open our hearts, minds and eyes.