Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Guest post by Joseph Akok Deng of Southern Sudan Life Saving Medical Mission

Last month, I welcomed a friend of mine, Denise Martin, to Diary of an Eccentric to talk about her experiences with Sudan's Lost Boys and her upcoming trip to deliver medical supplies to Southern Sudan. (In case you missed it, you can read her guest post here.)

Today, I am honored to welcome Joseph Akok Deng, one of the Lost Boys she talked about in her post and a founder of Southern Sudan Life Saving Medical Mission, to tell his story. (That's Joseph in the picture during his LPN graduation ceremony.)

My name is Joseph Deng,and I was born in Southern Sudan, then forced from my home land in 1987 at the young age of ten years old after a brutal attack on our village by the Northern Sudan Government. The attackers were mainly made up of Arab tribes. Thousands of men, women and little children were killed, the village burned to the ground and domestic animals were looted. Most of the small, innocent children were abducted or killed and many were able to escape. I was among the very fortunate to run away from the attackers, wandering into the bushes until I ran into small groups of other children.

Within hours, the small groups became a large crowd and we began running east toward Ethiopia, where we became refugees under United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). For the first time I was able to attend primary school in the camp. Four long years later, in 1991, the Ethiopians rebelled against us and attacked our camp. We were thrown out by gun-point and forced to cross very wide Gilo River. Thousands of the children drowned and others were killed or eaten by crocodiles. Thank God, I survived and joined a group running back to Sudan in order to cross the border into Kenya. However, we were unlucky and Sudanese government once again attacked us in every corner and resting area under the trees. Our main foods were wild fruits and some tree leaves and many prayers kept us alive. God is great.

In January of 1992, we arrived in the Northeast region at a Refugee Camp in Kenya, known as Kakuma. We lived in Kakuma for 9 years, and I was able to continue with my education, despite constant hunger, dehydration and lack of school supplies. At any given moment, morning or night, we were attacked by near-by Turkana tribe. Many children died by attacks in the Camp. I struggled each day, but graduated from high school in 2000.

From 1999 to 2001 I was elected by Community members in Kakuma to serve as Zonal Leader. My duty was to identify among 1500 residents and report the most needy and vulnerable cases in the Community to UNHCR. Also in 1999,a group of churches from the USA visited our Camp, held a meeting with us and later gave us name 'The Lost boys of Sudan'. Today, no doubt continues to be part of our history.

In 2001 I received a letter of approval to come to the the USA as a Sudanese Refugee. I was so excited for the opportunity after I arrived to New York International airport on 9/25/01 and to Tampa, Florida international airport next day, which was my last destination and my home today. In 2003 I attended a class for certified nursing assistant and was certified by the state board of Florida and immediately began working as CNA. Two years later, I attended nursing school and graduated as a Licensed Practical Nurse in April 2006, and certified as LPN by State board of Florida. At present, I am working as an LPN and gaining experience each day, so that I will be able to help more people, if it is in God plan.

In November, 20, 2007, I became a USA citizen and I am so proud to be part of this amazing country. Not to forget the painful time when I was shot in the chest and bullet got stuck in my right chest for 5 years until 2002 when removed here in Florida. It was only four inches to my lung. Please help spread the word and support Southern Sudan Life Saving Medical Mission Inc, after you read this story. I am also available to speak live to any groups that are willing to learn more about me or my organization. I am Incorporated in the state of Florida. Thank you for your time.

Thank you, Joseph, for sharing your amazing, courageous story with us. You are doing a wonderful job with your organization, and we wish you well on your upcoming trip to Sudan.

I was informed by Denise yesterday that the container with the donated medical supplies will be shipped on February 1. If you are interested in donating any medical supplies--anything that doesn't need refrigeration, ranging from alcohol and bandaids to anti-bacterial ointment and cotton balls--please email Denise directly at denise.martin AT seriouslock DOT com. You also could leave a comment on this post with your email address, and I can forward it on to Denise and have her contact you. Thanks for your consideration.


bermudaonion said...

What these children are going through is so heartbreaking. Joseph sounds like such an amazing young man. Thank you for this post.

Serena said...

Joseph is a testament to the strength in everyone. I wish more Americans would take a look at him and buck up against the odds they face...it is nothing compared to what he endured.

I will have medical supplies for you this coming weekend.

Anna said...

I agree with you both. I know he came with Denise to our church awhile back, but I didn't get a chance to meet him.

Serena, thanks very much. I know whatever you supply will be appreciated. I'll be picking up some things this weekend myself.

Unknown said...

Join the Outreach Africa: Lost Boys and Girls Foundation Cause on Facebook and give children in Sudan the gift of food, clothing, education, safety, and a future. The Outreach Africa: Lost Boys and Girls Foundation sponsors young Sudanese refugees in Africa, allowing them to attend boarding school where they receive one meal per day, a uniform, an education, and safety. Some of the relatives of these children are themselves refugees, but are living in America. This program benefits them as well, by lifting some of the financial burden that comes with going to school, having two or more jobs, supporting themselves in a foreign land and supporting their relatives in Africa. Join the Cause now!

The Bookworm said...

Joseph does sound like an amazing person. What is going on over there is horrendous, it is so sad.

Anna said...

Naida: So true. Thanks for stopping by.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Anna,for posted my story,and thanks everybody for sweet words of encouragement and support comments.I wish I can meet each of you in person,just to says Thank you for your humble and caring for others.For those who are ready to turn in their Medical supplies to Denise,your donation is very much appreciated.May God bless you all.From Joseph Deng of Southern Sudan Life Saving Medical Mission Inc.

Literary Feline said...

It is heartbreaking to think that anyone has to go through something like this. My heart goes out to Joseph and others in similar situations and stories like his are definitely inspiration for getting out there and trying to make changes.

Anna said...

Joseph: Thank you so much for stopping by and telling us your amazing story. You truly are an inspiration.

Literary Feline: I agree. I'm glad Joseph is out there telling his story and helping others. It provides some hope in the midst of the horrors.

anthony said...

Joseph is really brave to have gone through a life like that,
Joseph shows the true meaning of strength and god.

Anna said...

Anthony: I agree. I had a chance to meet Joseph recently, and he's a great person.

Anonymous said...

Hi,Ms Anna
This is Joseph Deng,I just stop by to see how you doing with your friends and not to forget your little angel,she is adorable.How your husband doing.I know its have been long time when I met you guys in Maryland,I hope I will have a chance to see each of you 11/13/09 since I plan to come to your church to give a speech in the fund raising dinner organized by Denise Allen,God bless her heart.There will be also a video show about me and Denise during our trip to Africa,especially Southern Sudan when we dilevered a Medical supply early this year.Let me know if you will be able to attend it.Thank you,and may God bless you all!!

Anna said...

Hi Joseph! It's so good to hear from you. We hope to be there. We'd love to see you again!