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Monday, March 10, 2014

Sudanese ‘Lost Boy’ Returns To Search For Family

Burned down houses in the backyard of Malakal Teaching Hospital on March 4, 2014, in Malakal, South Sudan. (Andrei Pungovschi/AFP/Getty Images)

Burned down houses in the backyard of Malakal Teaching Hospital on March 4, 2014, in Malakal, South Sudan. (Andrei Pungovschi/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power took time from the Ukraine crisis on Friday to speak to the U.N. Security Council about another critical issue: children in armed conflict.

Power talked about South Sudan, mentioning specifically Mangok Bol, a program administrator at Brandeis University.

Mangok Bol, pictured here at Brandeis University, returned to his native Sudan to find his orphaned nieces and nephew. (Mike Lovett/Brandies University)

Mangok Bol, pictured here at Brandeis University, returned to his native Sudan to find his orphaned nieces and nephew. (Mike Lovett/Brandeis University)

“Our hearts go out to Mangok Bol, a former ‘Lost Boy,’ now living in Boston, who has returned to his home village in South Sudan to try to find his nieces and nephews who’ve been abducted by militants from a competing ethnic group,” she told the council.

Many of Bol’s family members were killed in the earlier civil war. He was in refugee camps in Africa for years before making his way to the U.S. as one of the so called “Lost Boys” of Sudan.

He worked his way through college and now works as administrator for Brandeis’s international and global studies program. But when he discovered that his brother and sister-in-law had been killed and their four children kidnapped, Bol made his way back to South Sudan to find his family.

“When I came here two weeks ago, I was mourning of course,” Bol told Here & Now‘s Robin Young from the offices of the International Organization for Migration in Juba, the capital of South Sudan. “The only thing I was left with was to locate and find [my brother’s] children, if they are at all alive. I think it will be the most honorable thing I will do to him is to find his kids alive, and raise them myself.”

Bol says it isn’t clear whether the children were abducted as a result of the civil war, or an older practice of rival tribes abducting children to raise as their own.

“This same practice is common,” Bol said. “In the past, when I was a little boy, what we used to know is that they would come, take children and not kill the parents.”

But Bol says he knows he is in a desperate position and that he is putting himself in danger, but he remains hopeful.

“My life is not equal to the life of these four children,” Bol said. “I’m optimistic that these children will be found.”

Guest

  • Mangok Bol, former Sudanese ‘Lost Boy’ and program administrator at Brandeis University. He tweets @Mangokb.

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