‘Lost Boy’ Pleads for Peace in South Sudan

WORLD

Human rights activist John Bul Dau says wounds from the Second Sudanese Civil War in the 1980s have been reopened. South Sudan is now teetering on the edge of its own civil war following several weeks of violence that have claimed the lives of at least a thousand people and forced another 200,000 to flee their homes. (National Geographic News)

Use our resources to better understand the struggle of South Sudan’s “Lost Boys.”

John Dau is a human rights activist and former "Lost Boy," one of thousands who fled the brutal Sudanese civil war on foot across sub-Saharan Africa. Today, Dau is a National Geographic Explorer concerned with establishing medical and social infrastructure in the new nation of South Sudan. Photograph by Mark Thiessen, National Geographic

John Dau is a human rights activist and former “Lost Boy,” one of thousands who fled the brutal Sudanese civil war on foot across sub-Saharan Africa. Today, Dau is a National Geographic Explorer concerned with establishing medical and social infrastructure in the new nation of South Sudan.
Photograph by Mark Thiessen, National Geographic

Discussion Ideas

  • Watch our remarkable video “Responsibility and Leadership,” in which a younger John Dau talks about his responsibilities as refugee who successfully immigrated to the United States. God Grew Tired of Us, the film from which the video is taken, was released in 2006. Compare the video and the Nat Geo News article. How has John Dau’s life changed in the eight years since the film premiered? What characteristics have remained the same?
    • Differences
    • Similarities
      • Dau, one of the older (or, at least, taller) “Lost Boys,” was put into a position of leadership at age 13. He was in charge of a group of 1,200 refugees. Today, Dau continues to display an exceptional capacity for, as the video’s title indicates, responsibility and leadership. He has extended outreach to the South Sudanese population beyond financial support for his family and friends. Most notably, he established a medical clinic to improve the health and social stability of the rural population of Duk county.
      • In the video, Dau says he wants to bring his family to the U.S. In the recent Nat Geo News article, however, his “dad and mom and brothers” remain in South Sudan.
  • Compare the video and the Nat Geo News article again. How has life in South Sudan changed? What elements have not changed?
    • Differences
    • Similarities
      • South Sudan remains plagued by political unrest, violence, and poverty. Dau addresses the violence as senseless: “This war has no meaning to it. It’s not a war about religion: 98 percent of South Sudanese are Christian. It’s not about race—all people in South Sudan are African. South Sudan fought together against the oppressions by the north [Sudan], and now they are splitting themselves and fighting against each other—there’s no sense and reason to fight.”

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