“Not” Lost Boys of South Sudan

Much has been written about the “Lost Boys of South Sudan”. The stories of hundreds of young boys, who survived the atrocities of a longstanding war and immigrated to the US, are indeed incredible. However, not much is known about the few boys who did not flee to refugee camps in neighboring Ethiopia and Kenya.

For 40 years war was fought on South Sudan soil. Every building and road was destroyed by bombs. Nearly every village was raided and burned.

The soldiers from the North killed the adults and abducted the girls for slaves. They forced the boys to fight in North’s army, against their own people. In addition to the scorched earth policy of the North, the South Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) collected the remaining young boys and forced them to serve in the South’s army.

Very few of the boys who remained in South Sudan are alive to tell about their experiences. We are pleased to introduce you to two of them.

Joseph Mayek Biljok

Screen Shot 2013-10-03 at 10.00.35 AMMayek was the only survivor of 7 children born to his mother, Ayok. His father was killed by Arabs. He and his mother were extremely poor, even by Sudanese standards. They lived in a small tukel (hut) that did not provide protection from the rain, and survived by foraging for wild vegetables in the bush. When the SPLA soldiers came to Akot to collect young boys for military service, Mayek’s mother hid him in a hole and covered it with leaves. She sat with her legs over the hole. When she was demanded to hand over her son, she claimed that all of her children were dead. The soldiers threatened to shoot her unless she turned over her son. She was ordered to stand up, but she cried, ” no, I am not able to stand up”. Some of the soldiers said, “leave her alone, lets go, she doesn’t have a child”.

Mayek walked 5 hours to school in the morning, and 5 hrs back to Akot in the afternoon. He managed to get through primary school. His mother sold bundles of grass to pay for his fees. Mayek states, “In 2004 I decided to give what knowledge I had to children in Akot who had no teachers. I taught for 4 years without being paid.” He instructed children to read and write, under a tree, using a stick to write in the dirt.

In 2007 Mayek became very ill and went to Akot Medical Mission, where he tried to explain his symptoms to Samuel Ireri, the Kenyan medical officer. A few days later the hospital translator resigned, and Mayek was offered a job as the translator. It was at AMM that I became acquainted with Mayek, while serving as the interim medical advisor.

Mayek was financially sponsored in 2010 and was allowed to return to secondary school. Upon completion of secondary school, Mayek, was hired to teach at Living Water Primary School. He is currently serving as our Assistant Director of Education. We are praying for a sponsor for him to enroll in a 2 year teacher’s training college in January.

Despite all the hardships, Mayek is always smiling, and has a very positive attitude about the future of his community and South Sudan.

John Poth Awengchier

Screen Shot 2013-10-03 at 10.02.07 AMPoth is the 7th born child of parents living in Akot. Poth started primary school when he was 10 years old. Only the least valuable son was allowed to attend school. He had 2 older brothers and 5 sisters. Girls were not allowed to attend school, as they must work to help sustain the family, hauling water, collecting fire wood, and caring for infants. The 2 older brothers were deemed important. They were initiated (tribal ceremony to become a warrior), and were expected to protect the family and clan against their enemies. Sending Poth to school was a declaration of his worthlessness to the family. According to Poth, in those days students were considered to be criminals, because they were associating with people in town, who could never be trusted.

When the SPLA came to collect the young boys to take for military service, Poth’s parents were extremely distraught over the possibility of losing one or both of the older sons. Agreeing that his life was not as important to anyone, Poth volunteered to go into the army to spare his brothers. He fought for South Sudan for 4 years.

Upon release from the military, Poth assumed his studies and completed primary school. He became a believer in 2004, and was trained as a church leader. He helped start several churches around Akot. Poth expressed a strong desire to finish is education. We were able to sponsor him, allowing him to complete secondary school.

After graduation, Poth returned to Akot and came to work for Akot Christian Ministries (our official name in South Sudan). Poth taught the pastor training classes and translated the material from English into Dinka. Poth’s dream has been to get a degree in agriculture. He expresses his sadness at seeing his people continue to suffer in poverty and hunger, “My heart fails when I hear that our people remain in poverty, diseases and hunger; where people continue to loot and kill each other because there is no word of God, and an inadequate food supply.”

Poth has completed the first year at the Christian University in Juba. We are praying for a sponsor for him to finish the next 3 years of agriculture college. His plan is to return to Akot and help develop our new farm, “Bread of Life”.

God Uses a Goat

Screen Shot 2013-10-03 at 12.00.08 PMIn August a team delivered a goat to a destitute widow named Elizabeth, and her children. The family heard the name Jesus for the first time. Peter, our Director of Church and Pastor Development, translated as we shared the good news of salvation, through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Elizabeth and several of her older children verbalized belief in Christ as Savior. Elizabeth told us she had a dream the night before that a Macoc (person of God) brought her a goat as a gift. She said that in the dream she asked herself what she should name the goat. She decided to name it “Blessing”.


Jesus Wells

Screen Shot 2013-10-03 at 12.00.18 PMIn September, the Lord blessed the community of Akot with two new wells. One well was put in at our new farm, “Bread of Life”. This will soon have a water tower and a powered pump, to irrigate 11 acres of crops and 4 ponds for fish farming. The farm is a part of a plan to begin an agri-business, as a method of stimulating the economy and working towards self-sustainment.

The second well was installed at Living Water Primary School, where we plan to break ground in November for our first permanent classroom buildings. That well will also eventually have a water tower and a powered pump.

Sewing School Graduation

Screen Shot 2013-10-03 at 12.00.25 PMIn September, the sewing school held a celebration for the latest graduates. Akot Christian Ministries has two ladies who serve as our trainers, Deborah and Rebecca. There is no sewing instructor available in the remote area in which we serve. We have depended on visiting teams from the US and Canada to improve the skills of Deborah and Rebecca. Recently, we were able to bring a sewing instructor from another state, Western Equitoria, to Akot for a 3 month course. Esther taught many new skills to our ladies. They are now selling their beautiful wares in the market.
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