Daniel Yamun Ukang, president of the California Sudanese Lost Boys and Girls Foundation(CSLBGF), and Koor Gai, the foundation’s vice president, welcome you. Our foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization located in San Diego, California.
With the help of both John Dolan, Auxiliary Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego, and Lisa Petronis, MA, LMFT, Ph.D. of San Diego’s Catholic Therapists, the San Diego Lost Boys of Sudan founded the CSLBGF. The CSLBGF fosters community-based assistance to the Lost Boys of Sudan and their families living in the County of San Diego. Currently, the CSLBGF aims at improving the lives of the Lost Boys of Sudan and of larger communities of Southern Sudanese throughout the County of San Diego. The foundation serves as a forum where supportive citizens, organizations, and institutions can unite and work together to help the Lost Boys and Girls of Sudan actualize their goals and dreams.
Locally, the ultimate objective of the foundation is for San Diego County’s Lost Boys and Girls to obtain and manage a freestanding Lost Boys and Girls Center that will serve as the location for various meaningful programs. Some of the programs currently being designed will respond to individual and collective needs of the Lost Boys and Girls. Programs in place at this time include educational scholarships, dental-care funding, emergency assistance, and a speaker's bureau that provides public speaking to raise awareness of the journey and plight of the Lost Boys and Girls.
In South Sudan, the CSLGBF supports Awoda Primary School—its students, facilities, and supplies.
The Lost Boys and Girls began their journey in 1987 when their villages were attacked by the Khartoum Government. The United States Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families Office of Refugee Resettlement stated that the Khartoum Government factions began to attack peaceful villages in South Sudan, kidnapping young males to use as frontline troops in battle zones or to walk through minefields. Fearing they would be targeted as potential combatants, many boys left their villages for refugee camps in Ethiopia. Some traveled with friends or relatives, and others slipped away on their own at night. Few had any idea of what lay ahead of them, believing that their journey would last only a few days. Continually under threat, they fled for their lives, often losing their way, until due to hunger and lack of sleep they could go no farther and sat down by the roadside, in danger of becoming prey for lions and other wild animals.
Survivors who reached refugee camps in Ethiopia began to lead relatively peaceful lives again. But this was not to last. Following the change of government in Ethiopia in May of 1991, the Sudanese youths were forced to flee again. This time their journey occurred during heavy rains, and many perished while crossing swollen rivers or when hit by aerial bombardments. Hungry, frightened, and weakened by sleeplessness and disease, those who survived made their way to camps in South Sudan where they received help from the International Committee of the Red Cross. From there, they traveled on foot to safety in northern Kenya’s Kakuma refugee camp. Since 1992, UNICEF has been able to reunite nearly one thousand two hundred boys with their families. But thousands more have remained in dusty fly-ridden Kakuma where they have had to scrape for food and struggle for education.
By the year 2000, three hundred three thousand Lost Boys and Girls began the formal process of resettlement in the United States. Approximately one hundred Lost Boys currently reside in San Diego, California. These Lost Boys and Girls are pursuing degrees in local colleges and universities and working in a variety of fields.