Lost Boys of Sudan

The genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan is the most recent violent episode in a country where a 20-year civil war has killed an estimated two million people and displaced more than four million. The Dinka tribe has been hardest hit. Lost Boys of Sudan follows two young Dinka refugees, Peter and Santino, through their first year in America.

AIRED: September 28, 2004 | 1:23:00

[ Singing in Sudanese language ]

[ Boys sing ]

[ Chanting ]

WOMAN: All of you are traveling under the U.S. Refugee Program.

You will all be met by your resettlement agency.



Please come.

[ Rooster crows ]

[ Singing ]

Hey! How are you feeling?

I feel tired, uh-oh.


Let's see, let's see.

Let's see our food.

Yeah, let's see our food.

[ Man speaking Sudanese language ]

[ Men answering in Sudanese language ]

[ Singing ]

MAN: INS letter, everyone.

Santino Majok Chuor?


Excuse me. Thank you.

44F -- across, to the right.

Please. Thank you.

WOMAN: Ladies and gentlemen, American Airlines welcomes you

to Houston, Texas.

Hi, guys. I'm from YMCA.

Nice to meet you.

MAN: Hi. How are you?

How are you?

Good, good.

How you been? Welcome.

Thank you.

Hi. How are you?

I'm just trying to figure out who is who.

We have some individuals at our office

who can enroll you guys in school

as well as get you employed

so that you guys can try to finish your education.

We also will give you some -- pay your rent for you

for the first four months

and take you on job interviews

to get employed, give you spending money

also for the first four months, to help you get on your feet.

Okay, guys, we are here.

This is the electric stove.

Have you guys cooked with an electric stove before?

Okay, each one of these burners has its own control.

When you want it off, be sure that the light goes off.

If you have it close to off, but not completely off,

the light will still be on,

and you can start a fire and burn your house down.

We don't want that.

If you're cooking something and you need to get rid of it,

you can put soft things,

like fruit peels or soft food in here.

You run the water, and then this will destroy it.

Be sure never to put your fingers

or any silverware down there.

MAN: Local roads, country boundaries.

You are a newcomer. You don't have more money.

You need to check

very, very well different price.

Here is a melon.

WOMAN: When this say "ea," it means each.

It means one.

Okay, that one, it cost $1.99.

When they say "each."

If you smell bad, anyone cannot approach you.

It's very important to be clean.

So you will need to use this one.

So that improves the smell?

Yes, it will change your smelling,

or it will stop your perspiration.

WOMAN: You're going to be looking for jobs,

and we want to expose you

with the English in the job environment.

But, I mean, I know most of you have a basic vocabulary,

English vocabulary, okay.

Hello, my name is Deborah Richards.

I'm Lee Hu Chin.

I'm sorry. I didn't catch your name.

WOMAN: All right.

Hello, I'm Peter Kon.

Oh! I'm Santino Majok.

I never get your names.

I'm Santino Majok Chuor.

Oh, Mr. Santino Majok Chuor.

Say, "It's nice to meet you."

Nice to meet you.

Nice to meet you, too, Mr. Kon.

Thank you.

Okay, that was good.

We can applaud them. That was good.

Than the black people that were living here,

so I'm not even in comparison to the black people

that are the natives of this land.

The black people that are the natives of this land,

they are a little bit browner than me, but I'm so black,

yeah, I'm entirely black.

So they wonder

"Where did this entirely black kind of person come from?"

BOY: Oh!

MAN: That was good, that was a good play-out!

You crossed him. Oh, my God!

Come on. I got John and Brandon.

Come on.

You sorry!

Why y'all shootin' it like that, boy?

He in my way. That...in my way.

Come on.

Hey, let me have it. Let me have it.


Let me see if I got my side.

All right, today, I was going to show you

how to run some stuff on the mill.

This is what you call a mill, right here.

This one is for rotating.

You turn it to 60°.

Which would be right there.

Turn the machine on.

If we're going to go, you know, 60° apart,

the next number would be 120°.


Hey, you ready?


Let's burn out of here and get some eats.

Going to lunch.

Let me get two number 3s,

with number 1 cheeseburgers.

MAN: On both of them?

Yes. And, uh --

You like Coke?

Coke? Orange.

French fries or tater tots?

Let me get French fries.

Orange Slush?


Yeah, I'm going to get an Orange Slush with one,

and a Coke with the other one.

Cheeseburger, good ol' Texas American cheeseburger.

Yeah, I've been waiting for you to go to lunch with us.

You've been working through your lunch,

I don't see how you do it.

Us Americans, we got to eat in the morning,

and afternoon and for dinner.

Twice a day?

Yeah, Houston's pretty big.

You can find pretty much anything you want in Houston.

You know, it's so big.

Ready to go back to work?

PETER: Yeah.

SANTINO: It's a kind of business.

WOMAN: Well, we're trying to pass the word around

and my son Jordan's been helping

to get people to donate items to the Lost Boys.

We've got a couple of bicycles, a table and chairs,

a couple of mattresses, and a barbecue pit.

The same with the education.

That's a lot more difficult.

As soon as you hear the story about the Lost Boys,

you can't help but be touched

and want to help and want to give

because you guys have been through so much already.

So we have to pray that more people will want to help.

More churches, more areas,

like Sugarland and Katy and Klein and Spring

and Tomball, Magnolia, all these places.

They have good churches.

They have nice, safe places to live.

The total number of Lost Boys here in the Houston area.

Yeah, here in Braeswood now is 150.

Some have moved on, other cities or something?

Some they go other cities because of job.

So they go and look for job because even now,

some, they are staying without job.

It's difficult.


Something to do with 600.

Like now, the car that I'm driving.

To have a beautiful house where I can live,

to get food, to get good clothes, no.

I thought I was coming to come and gain something.

[ Telephone rings ]


How do you do, man? I'm fine.

Yeah, I was so worried about you, man.

I'm quite fine, man. Okay.

How do you do over there?

MAN: Peter, we have,

in our school, we have about 1,500 students.

Okay? 1,500.

I don't know if that's big or small

compared to the schools you've been in.

It's big.

Is it big? Okay.

Before coming here, where were in you in school at?

Were you in some schooling?

Yeah, I was, in Africa.

I was in schooling.

Have you had science?

Biology, chemistry.

Do you know something about cells?


Cell biology.

Cell, C-E-- double L.

Okay, so you know that stuff.

All right, so we're going to have ESL,

Algebra II, and Biology.

There's going to be some stress on you

from all these classes,

with a new situation and stuff.

If we give you an hour of PE,

where you really don't have to think very much,

you can just run around

and burn off some energy and that kind of stuff,

I think it would be good for you.

Would that be okay with you?

So I do play basketball.

Oh, do you really? Let's see, you're 17.

We're going to enter you as a junior, okay?

This is English as a Second Language,

and we're quite a group

of lots of different countries here,

but you can see there are

quite a few people from your country, too.

And your name is Sam, right?

No, my name is Peter.

Peter, Peter, Peter.

I knew it was an American name.

What is the opposite of empty?

Opposite of empty is full.


So you speak Swahili, Dinka, Arabic, and English?

That's a lot.

Answer this question in a complete sentence --

What would you do if you had a million dollars?

WOMAN: We have a new student who is joining us today.

Peter is going to be joining our class.

He is new here in the United States.

It's pretty simple.

Push this one right here.

And then you drop it here.

Just put your stuff in there.

Just make sure not to put your hands in there.

All right.

How long have you been here?

In America?


In this place, in --

in Kansas here, I've been one week.

Do you have any friends that go here,

or do you know anybody yet? No.

Well, if you want, during lunch,

you can sit with me and my friends.

All right.

It's really confusing...

You go inside, relax.


I will do like I was driving my car.

WOMAN: Press your forehead against the bar.

No, no, with your head. Your forehead.

Read the numbers across line number 5.


Okay. Thank you.

I was once in similar shoes like you.

Maybe, not as, you know,

and everything was new and different to me,

and here I am.

From where are you?

I am originally from Guyana.


This is a big thing, a driver's license.


I know. You'll do fine.


No, no, you will! Life is a test.


My name is rose. Stop signs --

I need you to stop your car completely.

You look left, look right,

and then you go when it's clear.

Okay? Do you have any questions?


First thing we're going to do

is go and parallel park.

I need you to back your car in.

Don't hit the flagpoles and don't run over any curbs,

because that's an automatic fail.

Yeah, that's good?

[ Soft whistle ]

Back, back a bit.

ROSE: We're going to go out to the end of the driveway

and turn to your right.

MAN: No, no, no, no, no. Oh...

MAN: I knew it, I knew it.

Don't come closer.

ROSE: So you didn't pass the driving test.

You're going to have to come back and take the test again.

Because when you left the parallel parking area,

you drove across the curb.

You can come back on Monday, if you like.

On Monday. Yes, okay?




I failed.

And that person is depending on me.

You see, he don't have job and, yeah.

Okay, so you're paying the rent all by yourself?


Okay, and James is the one with the hearing problem;

he needs to have surgery.

That's wonderful, that you're looking after him.

I think it's so admirable

that you all take care of each other.

You're all family to one another.

If one of you not working, and the rest of you working,

the one working can pay.

You boys are absolutely incredible.

You know, God has been with you all this time.

There's no way you could come through this

on your own, and to be here.

MAN: They come here and they knock the house.

If you open the house, you open the house,

they put their pistol here, and say that you bring me money.

"Get me money."

Has this happened here?

This happens all the time.

You're kidding me.

We came here to America as a freedom place.

And we find black people here as a criminal.

WOMAN: I wish I could tell you that all Americans

are good-hearted and --

MAN: Black Americans are no good.

No, don't put 'em all in one category.

I'm black, black Americans here,

I put in categories, okay?

I'm black. I can tell black.

You see me? I'm black. Okay?

But the black Americans here, they attack us.

They want to fight you

and you have fighting of a different kind.

Don't give up.

Okay, bye.

Bye, Santino.

MAN: Don't worry.

Hang in there. We'll come visit again.

What is his name?


David? David's very angry.

MAN: Let's play to 11.

[ Chuckling ]

Pretty good.

Yeah! 4 for 7.

Oh! Horrible.

Shoot from there, make a 3-pointer.

Hopefully some of our friends will be here.


Good morning. Happy Easter.

Good morning! Happy Easter to you.

And welcome to God's house.

[ Organ plays ]

You've made promises to yourself and you've made promises

to your family, you've made promises to your co-workers,

and yet nothing changes about your life.

It's because of sin. We cannot change ourselves!

But Jesus Christ came into our world

to make it possible to change us

and transform us. -MAN: Amen.

One, two, three.


[ Laughter ]

I'm scared. I'm falling down.

BOY: So you going to find a girl soon?

PETER: I don't know.

Ah, you don't need to worry about girls right now.

Just have fun.

What do you mean?

Just kind of have fun.

Be laid-back.


Do your schoolwork.

I don't do my work, you know that, but --

[ Laughs ]

You keep doing your schoolwork

and just get a job

and come hang out with me and my friends

and make some of your own friends,

and that's what it's all about.

But it's kind of funny sometimes,

all of you hang with your girls

and I'm staying there with, you know.

Well, those aren't my girlfriends.

Those are just friends...

That are girls.

Yeah, I want one of your friends.

BOY ON TV: On sex appeal, I got to admit

I look a little bit young,

and I know most girls want an older guy.

So I'm guessing that

she's going to give me an 8.

HOST: What do you think was racing through hermind, eh?

Not another Spring Break pretty boy.

Let's see if a woman's intuition is any better.

Michelle, how do you think Jimmy scored you

in the same three categories?

MICHELLE: Well, I'm a fun girl. And I know I'm a fun girl,

I like to party. I've had fun this whole time in Cancun.

[ Man singing ]

WOMAN: Santino. Last name C-h-u-o-r.

SANTINO: I was on process to do driver's license and insurance.

WOMAN: If you were driving your car

and you did not have a valid license

and a valid insurance, it's a violation.

Regardless of if you were in the process

or just bought the car, it doesn't matter.

In order to have those dismissed,

you have to show some documents that were valid on that day.

Oh, yeah.

I think this one is to be done here.

Hey, Kyle.

♪ What will my heart feel? ♪

♪ Will I dance for you, Jesus? ♪♪

MAN: One, two, and sing.

[Playing "Edelweiss"] ♪ Ooh ooh ooh ♪

♪ ooh ooh ooh ♪

♪ ooh-ooh ooh-ooh ooh ooh ooh ♪

WOMAN: X minus the x value

equals the radius squared.

What is the radius?

[ Piano plays "Edelweiss" ]

I hope most of you know me. I'm Peter.

My project is about camels.

Do you mind if I get number from you?

[ Piano plays "Edelweiss" ]

I think it was an "A."

BOY: Hey, Peter, what's up?

Hi, man.

So, basically, I'm writing an article

for the newspaper, about you.

I've been told you're a refugee -- right?

That's right.

Okay, do you want to like explain what happened?

My country, or to refugee?

Explain what happened in your life.

That you -- how you got here.

That's a long story.

I got lots of room.


They came at night

to come and attack us at my village.

And I --

and I, with my father, we ran our way,

and my mom and the other children,

they ran their way.

Now I don't know where they are.

It's been now something to like 11 years,

I never met with them.

So, how did your father die?

I come and heard people, some people are crying.

And I go in the tent, I found my father is dead.

And then I was there with no one.

So I survived on my own --

at the time, I was four years old.

Is there anything else that we should know,

for the article, about you?

Anything that you want us to write about you?

So that is the only problem.

[ Music plays ]

WOMAN: Santino, we have a big problem with your rent

because you didn't write anything on that money order

and you don't have any stubs,

anything to prove that you gave us the money order.

I thought that people do drop it there like that,

then, on Monday, people come together

and find.

You have no proof that you paid that money,

but in my heart, I believe that you did.

I will never do that kind of mistake anymore.

You see, everything is new to us.

The time we were in Africa, we were students,

and we did not have experience on business.

Because my life here in Houston, really,

ma'am, is very hard.

I'm the only one that is paying the apartment.

I'm the one who does all the services at home.

And I've got nothing right now.

Even something to feed myself is even difficult.

We're going to see what we can do to help you out,

but I have to wait

until I get an e-mail from my boss.




Thank you.

[ Whistle blows ]

Come on, come on. Here we go.

Don't fall away. Get up big on it.

It's a power move.

Make it a fundamental move.

Hold that.

Hold it, hold it, hold it!

Hey, Peter?

Here, ball fake, step through.


Try it. Right there.


Go to the basket. There you go!

There you go. All right, good job.

Get your own rebound.



MAN: Sometimes guys want to be on the team

but they're not willing to do what it takes

to be a member of a team.

MAN: Some of you are not very fundamentally sound.

My job is to make sure I can get you to do

what I need you to do for you and for us

to be successful.

Your task is, are you man enough to do that?

Let's get it together here.

We'll go "hawks" on the downbeat.

Everybody in? Hawks!

See you later.

You know what I mean? And I'm a poor person.

A poor person without parents.

What can he go and do among the children who have parents

and they are rich?


MAN: What's going on, buddy?

So I need gas for $5.


$5. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Okay. Where are you right now?

You're from Africa? Yeah, Sudan, in Africa.

Sudan in Africa? Way deep down, where?

In Eastern.

See, I never met a brother like you before.

Oh, really?

No, I haven't.

I never met anybody like you before in my life.


But I'll let you know something.

You're in Houston, Texas, right now, right?

All right? And I want you to enjoy Houston, Texas,

the way Houston, Texas, is supposed to be enjoyed.

You understand what I'm saying?

Because this is a good --

this is Texas' fourth-largest city,

and you in the best, all right?

So, you got a lot of brothers out here,

you got -- hey, look.

You might be a little darker than me,

but I'm going to let you know something, we welcome.

Okay, don't worry.

All right? You be good, man.

All right. -Don't worry.


MINISTER: Our heavenly Father, we come before you at this time

to remember our dear ones who have committed their lives

to achieve peace in our country.



This is Sarah.

Hey, what's up?

Hey, Peter, go and introduce yourself to people.

They know who you are. Don, you know Peter, right?


You made it! Where are you from?

I'm from Sudan.

Oh, that's awesome. Do you play a lot of soccer?

I play soccer, I play basketball.

No girlfriend? No.

Not yet, huh?

Not yet -- it's hard to find, it's hard.

She's hot?

It's hard to get it.

Oh, it's hard to get a girlfriend?

Yeah, because I don't know how American system acts,

or I need to learn more about Americans

so that I may approach them.

Because although I like somebody,

I don't know such a way that I may,

a polite way to approach her, you know?


It'll happen. Don't worry.

BOY: If you guys want to go around

and say what grade you're going to go into --

obviously, we don't have to say what school you go to,

and what your favorite color is, something gay like that.

GIRL: What?! GIRL: Shh!

Cool like that.

And just what church you go to.

My name is Anna Quisenberrry. I'm going to be --

or I am a junior and I love to dance

and my favorite color is pink.

I am Dale Ericson and I go to First Baptist Church

and I play the guitar.

I am Peter Kon Dut. My nickname is Nyarol.

I go to Olathe East,

I'm a senior, and I like basketball.

BOY: We're going to get things started.

We don't deserve to be in this room right now,

we don't deserve to be forgiven,

and we're going to be entered up into the kingdom of heaven.

We don't deserve that at all. It's all by grace.

Since we're given that gift,

why don't we go out and give it to others?

And I think we need to be joined together,

and so that's why I'm glad you guys are all here.

And this is the year, guys; it's time to get serious.

It's time to start changing the schools

and I believe this is the year

that God's going to do something.

[ Guitar plays ]

♪ I want to know you ♪

♪ I want to hear your voice ♪

♪ I want to know you more ♪

♪ I want to touch you ♪

♪ I want to see your face ♪

♪ I want to know you more ♪

♪ I am reaching ♪

♪ for the highest goal ♪

♪ that I might receive ♪

♪ the prize ♪

♪ I can sing of your love forever ♪

♪ I can sing of your love forever ♪

B2K: ♪ Want so damn bad ♪

♪ Gotta be, gotta be, gotta be ♪

♪ Your everything ♪

MAN: Their self-titled CD debuted

at number 2 on the charts within the first week.

♪ I gots ta be the one that makes it right ♪♪

[ Dialing telephone ]

These four young men were signed to Epic Records...

OPERATOR: May I have the number you're calling, please.

Yeah, I'm calling, like, Kenya.

[ Ring ]

WOMAN: Hello? Hello.

Ah! Lord.

[ Clapping ] MAN: Let's go.

Center court!

Come on, hustle in.

Remember, we've got six more guys

that are going to join us at tryouts

as soon as football is over.

I'm going to have to make cuts before that.

We coaches are going to get together

and talk personnel today.

We'll make initial cuts,

and I'll do that at the end of the practice.

Let's go, hustle up.

Come on, knock it down, fellas.

That ball has got to go in at a higher rate.

Let's go, Peter.

Okay, good job. Hop hop hop!

Let's go! Don't make mistakes.

Mistakes kill basketball teams.

You're always stepping in, Peter, always stepping in.

There you go, knock it in.

[ Buzzer ] Okay, get a quick drink.

I feel like I'm not going to do good.


Get your man! Get your man!

You look like your little sister, son.

Sloppy. Get your man. Where's your man?

Don't fall away, Peter.

Holy mackerel, Peter!

Oh, boy.

[ Whispering ] MAN: How many guards do you need?

MAN: Okay!

Guys, the part of my job I don't like is,

I got to let you go.

I appreciate you coming out,

but we're going to make one cut tonight

and we're going to make another cut tomorrow night.

Graham, senior, it's tough to do that.

You're a good kid, and I know you like playing basketball.

Keep at it, guys. Okay? Don't leave yet.

Good job, Peter. You work hard.

You're making your own way in this world

and you got a lot on your plate right now.

You're living by yourself, you're being a man right now,

that's real important.

Thank you for trying out. I thought you did a great job.

Guys, I don't know what else to tell you.

I don't want to keep you any longer.

I want you to get out of here

before you have to deal with other guys.

I really appreciate everything, guys.

Thank you again. Thank you again.

Thank you again. Thank you again.

All righty.

WOMAN: Welcome to Camp Letts.

This is the first summer camp of this kind

and the first national reunion

of the Southern Sudanese youth.

You have spent the last year

working very, very hard

to learn a new country,

a new life, a new language,

new schools, and new friends.

But for this coming week, we hope that most of the time,

you can stop working quite so hard

and just have some fun.

And to do all the things

that American youth do in the summertime

as they have gone to summer camp, now, like you.

You look like you have a sweater, huh?

Now, let's go.

Let's go.

All right.


[ Singing in Sudanese language ]

Hi, Mr. Mawry.

Come on in, young man.


What can I help you with?

I was wondering if I can take ACT.

The ACT is a test that you would need to take

before you go to a four-year college.

If you wanted to go

to Johnson County Community College

for the first two years, if you wanted to do that,

they have an assessment test that you can take.

I received a letter of honorary --

A letter of...

National honorary?

National Honor Roll, okay.

You've done very well.


Do you know how to do your biography?


Okay, so you're okay with, on doing your biography.

I would like to show you, too.

Okay, when you get it done,

why don't you bring it down and show it to me?

I'm done with it.

You're done with it? Oh, my gosh!

I am Peter Kon Dut.

One day, my father and I

were gathered around the fire in my village,

where my grandparents were telling us stories

about things that had happened long ago.

When the shooting began,

everybody just ran for their lives, and I ran, too.

Kind of a sad thing to read.

I'm not sure I like to read this.

That's very good, Peter.

Thank you.

I don't know what to say to you.

You certainly have been through

a lot of things for a young person.

But I am glad you survived

and that you're here, okay?

That's kind of nice.

I'm sorry all that had to happen in your life,

but I am glad that you're here.

GIRL: Hi, Peter.

Hi, Melody.

How's it going?

All right. Cool.

Here are some parts for you right here.

Aw! Thanks.

I couldn't figure out

what you were talking about on the phone.

I was like, "What did you get me?"

Oh! A bird.

Is that what it is?

What kinds are these?

I don't know.

Are they like finches or something?

Yeah, I knew that you like animals,

that's why I catch the birds.

That's so cool, thanks.

You're welcome.

Where did you get them?

I just caught them at bush.

Right there, close to Walmart.

This is in your village?

Yeah, this is Kakuma, where I was living.

You see right here? He's making fun.

That's why I was laughing.

I really miss it.


I miss that place.

Really? This is the refugee camp?

Yeah, this is the refugee camp.

That man doesn't have a leg does he?

Yeah, he doesn't.

What happened? Did he just get sick?

That is war.

The next one, that is my friend, too.


He's in Africa.

So you still have a lot of friends over there still.


That are still in the camp.



So I remain lonely.


1, 2, 3!

One can't live alone, no.

We need to live together.

Hello, and welcome to this video presentation.

Today, we'll show you the basics

of how electricians complete many electrical wiring tasks.

First, we'll mount our receptacle box

to a stud in the location...

SANTINO: For the safety of the eye.


That's just perfect. Sit up real straight for me.

Highly uncomfortable. There you go.

All right, Peter, 1, 2, 3.

That is very good.

[ Singing in Sudanese language ]