Spring 2010 Issue

The Lost Boys

Left to right: Kayla dos Reis, Brittany McNeil, Kristine Siebken, president of Psi Chi Honor Society, Elizabeth Romero, president of the Psychology Club, and Karla Rivera-Torres pose for a photograph with Valentino Achak Deng, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan. Deng visited Barry’s campus to take part in a read-a-thon in honor of Black History Month.

As one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, Valentino Achak Deng became all too familiar with the daily realities of war and death. Given that name by international aid organizations, the Lost Boys of Sudan refers to the more than 27,000 boys of the Dinka ethnic group who were displaced and/or orphaned during the Second Sudanese Civil War. About 2 million people reportedly lost their lives during the 22-year conflict.

Deng’s personal story of survival is chronicled in the book, “What is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng” by Dave Eggers. In February, Deng visited Barry’s campus to personally read passages from the book and share his experiences in war-ravaged Darfur with students, faculty and staff. Deng’s visit and the event were held in honor of Black History Month. He told of how he survived by trekking across punishing landscapes while being bombed by Sudanese air forces, dodging land mines, and being preyed upon by wild beasts and human killers. Deng fed on unknown fruits, vegetables, leaves, and sometimes went without anything to eat for days.

At many points the struggle was unbearable, and many of his friends, and thousands of his countrymen did not make it. The book about his struggles has garnered international attention, even from President Barak Obama, who urged White House aides to read it so they could learn more about the struggles of the Sudanese people.

More than 50 students, faculty, staff and other guests joined Deng in reading for the event, which raised money to benefit Sudan.