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THE GOOD LIE
20 July, 2015
I saw a 2014 movie yesterday that you probably have never heard of. It's called "The Good Lie" and it stars a dark haired Reese Witherspoon, and a bunch of people who are not familiar Hollywood names (people like Arnold Oceng, and Ger Duany).
I watched it because this was the description:
I realized this was a story of the Lost Boys of Sudan.
Everybody who reads this blog knows that I am not an organized person, but I am organized where it comes to this journal and so I was able to check on when i first learned of this story. At first I thought I had read a book about it, but checking my "books read' database, I couldn't find anything. Then I thought I had done an article about it, but could not find that article among my saved articles, but thought that it might have been one of the many articles lost when my computer died. But then I went to my database of all 5592 Funny the World articles I've written since 2000 and I found that I had written about the story in March of 2009 when I wrote about my feelings following the interview I had with Jared Martin, a young man who started making his 13 hour film when he was 14. He eventually cut it down to 11 minutes so that it could be entered in film festivals and the article I wrote was about the Davis Film Festival of 2009.
Thanks to my database list, my Funny the World Archive, and my original article about the Film Festival where I reacted to learning the story, I began to remember what I had learned at that time. I remembered hearing something about refugees and Sudan, but until I spoke with Jared Martin, I had no idea. No idea at all.
During the second Sudanese War (1983-2005), 2.5 million people were either killed or displaced. Many children were left orphaned and homeless as their villages were reduced to rubble and all killed. The children, many of them, were spared because they were out taking care of livestock when the attackers rode through their villages.
The children began walking, trying to find a place where they could be safe.
Some 27,000 children, some as young as 5-10 years, traveled by foot for years in search of safe refuge, on a journey that carried them over a thousand miles across three countries to refugee camps where they resided in Ethiopia and Kenya and in various villages where they sought refuge in South Sudan. Over half died along their epic journey, due to starvation, dehydration, sickness and disease and attack by wild animals and enemy soldiers. Experts say they are the most badly war-traumatized children ever examined.
Many who finally found safety found it at Kakuma refugee camp on the border of Kenya.
Here the children lived as many 10 years. From 1992 to 1996 UNICEF was able to reunite 1200 of the boys with their families (girls were affected too, but mostly they were raped and killed) but 17,000 were still in camps in 1996. In 2001 as part of a program established by the United States Government and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), approximately 3800 Lost Boys were allowed to resettle in the United States. Several organizations, mostly church groups, agreed to take groups of these kids in and help them find a new life in this country. The program was halted after 9/11, but restarted in 2004. Omaha, Nebraska has the largest collection of Lost Boys, some 7,000.
The children in "The Good Lie" were actual survivors of the camps.
These particular survivors were taken to Kansas City, to help them find jobs and a new life. Witherspoon was one of the people charged with finding them jobs. How woefully unprepared Kansas City was to accept them!
The children came from the desert, where they had lived all of their lives. They knew nothing of the western world. Had never seen a telephone or a refrigerator or a bathroom--or an apartment building, for that matter. The movie depicts them being picked up at the airport and dropped off in front of an apartment complex, where they look lost. Witherspoon finally take them to their apartment and shows them how the light switches work, where their bunk beds are (they take the mattresses off the beds and put them on the floor). The next day she is annoyed when they fail to answer the telephone when she calls to tell them she is coming to take them to an employment agency (they don't have a clue what that buzzing is and think it may be an alarm of some sort).
The guy in charge of employment is frustrated because they have no skills. Everything he asks them results in a blank look because it's something they've never heard of. They are finally given a chance at a food store, where they are shocked to be in charge of throwing away old food (and one of them gets in trouble for giving some of the food to a homeless woman).
I suspect their experience is not unusual. We in this country assume that our experience is shared by others worldwide and can't conceive of people like these Sudanese refugees who were as lost in our world as Dorothy was in Oz. It takes awhile but they are finally assimilated into the community.
It's a story that most of us in this country know nothing
about, but thanks to people like Jared Martin and the people who made "The
Good Lie," and others who have made movies about the subject, at least some
of us know a bit more about it. We're really good about turning a
blind eye to the sufferings of others in worlds far from this country.
It's good to be reminded of the hell that others live through, perhaps
encouraging us to join the efforts to help.
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