For ten years this was how Lopez and the other Lost Boys existed, until the USA started airlifting some of these refugees to America for resettlement in our country. My sister took in four Lost Boys from the Kakuma camp and I vividly recall meeting these boys in the extremely cold Boston weather of that December days after their arrival. The world was new and scary to them and full of wonderment. They thought they were shrinking as the cold air wrinkled their skin. Cars, escalators, running water and flushing toilets, and doors that swung on a hinge were all new experiences for these boys. I recall visiting that first time and after awhile wondering where they had gone to. I went down to their room and found them working on their new school homework. One boy was trying to make it through reading and understanding "A Raisin in the Sun." All that these boys wanted was a chance. A chance for an education and a chance to make a difference in the world and they were not going to waste time. They had their priorities straight. They had seen far too much to not know of the great opportunity they had just been presented with. Lopez's reaction to his new home and circumstances was similar.
Running for My Life: One Lost Boy's Journey from the Killing Fields of Sudan to the Olympic Games is a wonderful story worth reading whether you are a runner or not. Lopez's story talks to the better nature of all people as he goes from lost boy to entertaining a president at the Olympic Games. The good news is that Lopez has made his second Olympic team and will be running the 5000 meters for America this summer in London. I do not want to give away too much of the book, but pay attention to a small handmade ring, goat and cow guts, a gimpy hamstring and a sudden ankle injury, Olympic champion Michael Johnson, and his three "angels". Lopez is doing more for others in his homeland of South Sudan. You can find more at his website here.
Other posts on Lopez Lomong:
Lopez Lomong's Incredible 5000 meter debut Awesome race and "incredible" finish. NPR referenced this blog post and my fourth grade students found this "incredible" too as that was a vocabulary word in our class that week!
Lopez Lomong: Everything is Possible
Recovering Children in Africa: Great Stories of Survival and Giving Back
I would also recommend reading War Child: A Child Soldier's Story by former Lost Boy, singer, and peace activist Emmanuel Jal. His story is a little more hard-hitting about the hardships encountered by these Sudanese children. I wrote more about Emmanuel Jal here.
Another wonderful book I read last week by my friend and teaching colleague here in Nashua is called Accepting the Challenge! This book tells about Scott's dedication to a couple of Burundi boys and their families after being relocated from the Kakuma refuge camp to resettlement in Nashua as high school students. It also tells about the boys' dedication to reaching for their goals of going to college.