Friday, February 01, 2008

If there is no struggle, there is no progress.

Since 1983, the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and the Sudanese Government have been at war in southern Sudan. The conflict has already claimed more than 500,000 lives and displaced huge numbers of people. Among these were at least 20,000 children, mostly boys, between 7 and 17 years of age who were separated from their families. These 'lost boys' of the Sudan trekked enormous distances over a vast unforgiving wilderness, seeking refuge from the fighting. Hungry, frightened and weakened by sleeplessness and disease, they crossed from the Sudan into Ethiopia and back, with many dying along the way. The survivors are now in camps in Kenya, the Sudan and Uganda.

This extraordinary exodus has its origins in traditional forms of migration. After being initiated into manhood, young adolescent boys in southern Sudan have generally been quite mobile. Organized into small groups of their peers, they would leave home for a period to look after cattle. Or they might head for the towns or cities to go to school or to seek their fortune, before eventually returning home. In addition, at times of stress families all over Africa send their children elsewhere to find safety, food, work and schooling.

But during the war this process has escalated dramatically. Fearing they would be targeted as potential combatants, many boys left their villages and headed for cities such as Juba and Khartoum. Here they hoped to find work or schooling, though as these cities became saturated with migrants, the boys often had to resort to begging or petty crime.

Others set out for refugee camps in Ethiopia. Some travelled with friends or relatives, others slipped away on their own at night. Few had any idea of what lay ahead of them. They believed the trek would last only a few days and discovered that they faced a harrowing journey of 6 to 10 weeks. Continually under threat, they would flee for their lives, losing their way in the wilderness. Often they lost everything en route—blankets, sheets, shoes, clothes and pots—to soldiers, swindlers or bandits. Many fell victim to killer diseases. Others were so weakened by hunger and lack of sleep that they could go no further and sat down by the roadside—prey for lions and other animals.

The survivors who reached the camps in Ethiopia started to lead a relatively peaceful life. But it was not to last. Following the change of government in Ethiopia in May 1991 they had to flee again, back to camps in the Sudan. This time the journey was during heavy rains, and many perished crossing the swollen rivers or were hit by aerial bombardment. The luckier ones made it to a camp where they received help from the International Committee of the Red Cross.

This relative security was shattered again late in 1991 when fighting erupted around them, and they and children from other camps were on the move once more, eventually heading for Kenya.

Since 1992,
UNICEF has managed to reunite nearly 1,200 boys with their families. But approximately 17,000 remain in camps in the region. The harsh memories remain as well. As 14-year-old Simon Majok puts it: "We were suffering because of war. Some have been killed. Some have died because of hunger and disease. We children of the Sudan, we were not lucky."

Editorial: While the Sudanese government continues to inflict war on its own people, the Edmonds School District hands out money to their friends and business associates. Just think of the impact a few million dollars could have made in the lives of these courageous Sudanese children. There certainly is no shortage of great programs in our district, but the last place public money needs to go is into the pockets of friends of the District rube.



Anonymous said...

Once again this post attempts to elevate the welfare of children. Please remember that to the current Edmonds School District Administration, the only thing of importance is themselves - the personal and financial gain that they are able to achieve.

To them, children are little more than a convenient excuse by which they are able to access these resources. No educational money, no salary, no prestige and thus no regime.

I beg that we do not afford an appraisal of school district administration that hints at the suggestion that are capable of any greater integrity. It is simply not existant.

Anonymous said...

Save Enuff Porn Assoc. Partners.
I would like a room at the warehouse, next to that guy, so I could learn how to down load on district time & get away with it. I also would like a office at ESC, So my Assoc. could check out all the so called leaders for my district web page. I would do interviews & center folds of all.
I'd have some snap shots of Marla front cover of course,kinda like Opra. I'd call the magazine "DISTRICT NARLA"
"hey that makes me laugh"

Anonymous said...

I really like your work, but this one crosses the line. I'm sure you are aware that we have many "Lost Boys" of Sudan as students in the district.

When you tell a boy that it is OK to eat all the food at lunch and that he doesn't have to hoard it in his pockets...when you can tell a boy that he may see his brother again someday...when you can tell a boy that the times he fired his rifle into groups of people are times he should work to forget...then you can write a piece like that.

Take it down. You are better than this.

Anonymous said...

This entry reminds me that there are problems in the world that can be ameliorated by the equitable distribution of money. While wars may not be ended with the current political leadership in these distant locations, easing the suffering of others can be achieved.

This entry keeps things in perspective. Fat cats in this country enrich their friends through their unrestricted access to public funds, while people just trying to survive are considered acceptable collateral damage.

Western civilization has evolved to a point where treasures can be stolen without guns or bloodshed. Political power allows those doing the stealing to call those who complain about the theft nothing more than disgruntled or a whiner.

Anonymous said...

you should look at this blogger's resume. i think he might have a reason for so brutal a comparison.

i thought this entry was informative and thats why i keep reading.

Anonymous said...

Context. It's all about context.

Anonymous said...

We need to remember that the USA has children like Sudan that are starving not only for food but for love and to be cared about. We have children that hoard food and gee they hoard because their parents won't feed them because the drugs or booze is more important. The district needs to care and love these children and yes we have them in our system. When Administration steals from our students it affects all the students and staff. Tax payers will not continue to support this kind of abuse.