Arok’s Story (In His Own Words)
I was born in 1982 in a village located in what is now the new Republic of South Sudan. My family and our community herded cattle, and we embraced a simple and peaceful life. In 1989, when oil was discovered on our land, the Arab Muslim militia from Khartoum declared jihad against southern Christians and traditional believers, and the genocide erupted.
That year, the Janaweed (Devils on Horseback) attacked our village, setting it on fire. Many people were killed, including my parents. Many young boys, like myself, were away working at the cattle camps and escaped death, but at the age of seven years I was orphaned and running to save my life. I didn’t know it at the time, but I had become a Lost Boy of Sudan.
There were no adults to protect us, yet I’ve always felt God’s presence. I heard him speak to my heart, whispering, “Arok, someday you will return to rebuild your village.”
We met other Lost Boys and together we walked the one thousand arduous miles to Ethiopia. The walk took three months, and we had no shoes, clothes, water or food. Many died along the way due to starvation, thirst, eating poisonous fruit, and wild animal attacks. While crossing the Gilo River into Ethiopia, 2,000 of us drowned. Others boys were shot by the Arab militia or forced to become boy soldiers and kill our own people. Even today, there are still 35,000 people suffering in slavery.
After 18 months of living in an Ethiopian refugee camp, we were driven out by gunpoint. Many more boys drowned or were killed by hippos and crocodiles when we had no choice but to once again cross the Gilo River during the height of the rainy season. It took the surviving boys an entire year to walk to the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, though thankfully this time the United Nations dropped food for us to eat on our long journey.
From 1992 to 2001, I lived in the Kakuma Refugee Camp. Today 80,000 Sudanese refugees still live in this brutally hot and dangerous place. There is little food, water, or hope.
In 2001, I arrived in the United States with the help of the United Nations. I put myself through college and graduated from the University of Colorado at Denver with a degree in Economics. Throughout the years, I’ve always heard God calling to me to rebuild my village by educating, equipping, and empowering the South Sudanese children who have survived the genocide.
Today, Seeds of South Sudan is working hard to achieve this goal through the hard work, generosity, and prayers of our donors and sponsors.”