McHENRY – McHenry School District 15 students heard a story of perseverance, survival and gratitude Tuesday after a schoolwide study on the Lost Boys of Sudan.
Gabriel Dut and Peter Magai Bul are two people who survived the trek from Sudan to Kenya, a journey that took place in the 1980s and early 1990s during the Second Sudanese Civil War. About 26,000 Sudanese boys were forced to flee the violence and 10,000 to 12,000 boys survived the monthslong walk to the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya.
The two are part of the Chicago Association for the Lost Boys of Sudan, an organization formed in 2001 when the refugees began arriving in the area. The group assists in helping with emergency support, education, medical help and employment. About 120 Lost Boys moved to Chicago after poor living conditions at the Kenyan camp gave the U.S. reason to relocate about 4,000 of them to the states, according to the association’s website.
The story has been told in documentary, movie, TedTalk, school presentation and book form. McHenry Middle School students have been reading the book “A Long Walk to Water,” which is an account of the tale as part of a global reading program for the past six weeks. On Tuesday, students heard a presentation for Dut and Bul about their story of living through the experience.
McHenry Middle School Principal Mike Glover said he hoped that students took away a feeling of gratefulness from the study.
“It’s a great big world out there, and there are things that we have and are lucky to have,” he said. “These guys literally had to walk all day to get water. … I know [the students] are ready to go for Thanksgiving and can be grateful for all the things they have.”
Dut and Bul also spoke about the importance of gratitude and positivity while fielding questions from students about their experiences, family and life in Sudan.
“You can do what you want in life,” Dut said. “Despite challenges you may face at a young age.”
Students read “A Long Walk to Water” as part of the Global Read Aloud program, created in 2010 with the intent of bringing educators and students from around the world together.
Schools sign up for the program and all read the same book over the course of six weeks. Classrooms can connect with each other to talk about the book and lessons via Google learning apps.