What do Sudan’s lost boys, an Ethiopian teacher, a Lutheran library, a Christian high school in Africa, a Catholic nun and a bus driver in Juba, South Sudan, all have in common?
Each is part of a network of caring individuals that provided a pathway of hope for an orphaned boy named Paul Lorem—who is now a sophomore at Yale University in Connecticut.
In his infancy Paul’s family was caught in the middle of the civil war in Sudan. During this time, Paul contracted tuberculosis and was on the verge of death. His parents had to make a choice that no parents should ever have to make. They walked with their 6-year-old Paul across the Kenyan border to Kakuma refugee camp where he could be medically cared back to health. Sadly, that was the last time they all saw each other, as his parents returned to family in South Sudan and died before they could be reunited.
Too often, this story of war, sickness, family separation and death would end on a similar note. But thanks to networks of caring individuals—primarily through churches and schools—Paul’s story is being written differently. In his case, the list of people who walked, helped and inspired him is long.
In the camp, his Ethiopian science teacher introduced him to the Lutheran-run refugee library and the Christian-run Alliance High School. Nicholas Kristoff wrote in The New York Times piece “From South Sudan to Yale,” about Paul choking back tears when remembering the people who helped him from fellow refugees (called lost boys) to the German nun who helped pay his school fees and cared for him like a mother. Another was a driver in Juba, South Sudan, who welcomed him into his humble home while Paul got his passport to the U.S.
Now, Paul is now a sophomore at Yale. When Paul graduates, his plan is to return to South Sudan and help strengthen the network of schools and churches that bring hope and change.
Paul’s story has inspired me to see the importance of Food for the Hungry’s emergency response team’s work in South Sudan—where FH is expanding, through a network of relationships—our agriculture, health and education programs.
These programs impact not only families through better food security and health, but also boys and girls, young men and women through education for a future. With the leadership of our South Sudan Country Director Yves and his team with their network of partners, including churches and schools—my prayer is that in the future families like Paul’s won’t have to cross borders looking for work, school or health, but instead can find a future right in South Sudan.