Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Help Send Medical Supplies to Sudan!

Denise Martin is a friend of mine from church, and I'm handing the blog over to her today. She is very passionate about helping the Lost Boys of Sudan, helping several of them when they were brought to the U.S. in the 1990s. When she tells us stories about these boys, some of whom call her "Mom," you should see her face light up. She will be going to Sudan early next year with the Southern Sudan Life Saving Medical Mission to deliver much needed medical supplies to the villages of Southern Sudan. Because these people are in desperate need of assistance and because it is the holiday season, I invited Denise to Diary of an Eccentric to talk about her experiences with the Lost Boys and the upcoming mission.

This story is about the amazing accomplishments of the survivors of ethnic cleansing and greed. They are known as "Lost Boys" of the Sudan and are from the Dinka villages of Southern Sudan. Darfur is part of the Dinka community, but it is further west from where the "Lost Boys" came from.

Sudan is a divided country. The northern part is basically Muslim and the southern is Christian. The riches of oil and diamonds lay in the southern part of the country, the area populated by peace loving, simple living agrarian people. Khartoum, the capital and center of government for the country, wanted control of the wealth of Southern Sudan, and to attain it, used the guise of ethnic cleansing to obtain possession. They wiped out whole villages by invading them at first and later with chemicals dropped from the air. During the invasions, women were raped, and most inhabitants were maimed or killed. The children were told to run, and many were able to do this--boys and girls alike.

They found their way to a U.N. refugee camp in Ethiopia. However, after three years, there was an uprising in Ethiopia, and the children fled back to Sudan, only to be greeted by Muslim bullets. They then headed to Nairobi, but not without great losses. They slept in trees at night to keep from being killed by the animals, but many fell out and were devoured. Those that survived that problem of the journey were shot at, many fatally, and then they had to conquer the river to cross into Nairobi. Most of the children did not swim, and the river was teeming with crocodiles, so many more lost their lives on that last part of the journey to a new U.N. camp called Kekuma. While in Kekuma, as with their stay in Ethiopia, the children survived on a bowl of corn gruel, normally every other day. This was during the formative time of their bodies and brains.

Then came the U.S. government to the rescue in the late 1990s. The brought approximately 10,000 of the boys (the girls were left behind) to this country. It was the largest migration of youth our government has ever undertaken. Groups were paid by our government to place these boys and get them acclimated to living in the States. Unfortunately, greed took hold of many of those groups; the one that was responsible to place 27 of these boys in our area in Florida was no exception.

When we found them, they were starving. They were divided into groups of four in ghetto-like apartments and had no idea what a stove, refrigerator, etc., was. Volunteers at all levels were eager to help them, teaching them about our food, building computers free for each group, giving free medical assistance, educating them to pass our GED test, providing jobs and transportation, and helping train them in areas that interested them. Most were interested in medicine, so local doctors, nurses, and medical professionals helped prepare them to take the CNA test. One of the doctors was on the board for a large local nursing home where many were hired as a result and were able to go to college with the financial aid of that particular employer. What a marvelous example they were for our high school children, and how much our children enjoyed doing things with the Dinkas, the "Lost Boys." To date, from this group of 27, we have one priest, several in college, and several graduated nurses of varying degrees.

Now these boys, most of whom have become U.S. citizens, want to help their people. In that effort, a few of the nurses have formed a group to take medical supplies into the villages of Southern Sudan, villages in the Bush void of electricity and medical help. They are setting up small dispensaries and training people to effectively dispense the supplies where needed. They have formed a foundation that is in the process of receiving its 501c3 accreditation to be a nonprofit organization. They have their EIN, and it looks like all will be done by Spring.

One of the "Lost Boys" arrived in this country carrying a Muslim bullet in his side. The bullet has been removed, and the boy, Joseph Deng, is now a nurse and is heading this group. A group of retired African priests living in an abandoned orphanage from WWI and tending an existing parish there is taking responsibility for getting the containers of supplies over to Nairobi, Kenya. The first container will be picked up and driven into Southern Sudan in March of next year. We have been blessed with the response for help in this endeavor to solicit medical supplies and money for expenses. We will not be able to give tax deductible receipts until the 501c3 is official, but will make sure that everyone gets theirs then.

We need anything to promote or aid health that does not take refrigeration or electricity, from latex gloves and bandages to antifungal or antibacterial salves. Even wheelchairs are needed.

You can see pictures of the "Lost Boys" and their story on many sites. Click here, for example.

You can also see more about this group bringing medical supplies to Southern Sudan by clicking here.

Thanks, Denise!!

**If you'd like to help the Southern Sudan Life Saving Medical Mission, you can email Denise Martin directly at denise.martin AT seriouslock DOT com or leave a comment on this post letting me know you'd like me to put her in touch with you. **

After reading so much about Darfur in recent months, I think this really is a worthwhile cause. I hope you will consider helping out. It doesn't have to be much. Even a few boxes of bandaids or a few bags of cotton balls would help tremendously!


Jeannie said...

Anna, could you please pass my name and email address along to Denise? I visited the website and I'm especially interested in sending articles of clothing to help.

Jeannie said...

I read the website a second time. Perhaps clothing is not needed at this time? If Denise could contact me, that would be great. :D

Anna said...

Jeannie: I will email Denise your info right now. I know she told someone at church that they're only accepting medical supplies, not clothing, at this time. Thanks so much for your interest!!

Serena said...

I assume I can hand you the stuff for Denise! LOL Let me know the deadline woman!

Anna said...

Serena: I certainly can hand-deliver your donation for you! I know she needs it by some time in February. I'll clarify this with her and get back to you.

Serena said...

Ok, sounds fine with me...That gives me enough time to get the stuff at Sam's!

Anna said...

Serena: Great! I've sent her an email. I'll let you know the deadline and add it to the post as soon as I hear from her.

The Bookworm said...

this is a worthwile cause!
please contact me with more info for donating.


Anna said...

Naida: Thanks so much! I will pass your info onto Denise right now!

Shana said...

Denise, thanks for this information. I was shocked to read what initially happened to the boys who were brought to the US and touched by the people who stepped in to try to help.

Anna, kudos to you for giving space on your blog to this issue.


Anonymous said...

Dear Anna,thank you so much for allowing Denise Martin whom I referred as My Mom to tell the story about sudanese lost boys which I beceived as an important part of my life.My name is Joseph Deng,the Sudanese lost boy which denise talked about, being shot from Sudan,in the chest then the bullet stuck deep about four inches to my lung,and had it for sixes years(1997 to 2002)when it was removed here in USA.Thank God I survived. Iam also a founder of southernsudanlifesavingmedicalmission.org.I knew God saved my life to do His will by helping other who can not help themseves.Let me know if you want me to send you my biography.God bless you,and thanks again for supporting Southern Sudan Life Saving Medical Mission Dot Org.My email is josephakok@yahoo.com.

Anna said...

Shana: Thanks for stopping by and for reading the story of the Lost Boys. I wish you all could hear Denise talk about them in person. It really is a great story of perseverance and hope.

Joseph: Thanks so much for telling us your story. What a great organization you've founded! I've sent you an email.

Serena said...

I'll be posting this on my blog this afternoon with my Matrimony winner. Hopefully this will generate more interest

Anonymous said...

I might be a little late here but does Denise have a list of things that she absolutely needs? It might be easier for me to just buy things off a list coz i am not really sure what to buy.. thanks!

Anonymous said...

and thanks to serena for posting about it.. i think i missed seeing this post when you published it earlier this month