Jany Deng

Program Director,
Lost Boys Center for Leadership Development

My name is Jany Deng. I was born on March 15, 1975 in a small town called Jokau, which is located in Southern Sudan. I was born before the civil war broke out. I had a very normal lifestyle living with my full family which was my father, brothers and sisters. I was raised very much by my father since my mother passed away when I was only 6 years old.

When the civil war broke out in 1983 my life changed completely. I was only 10 years old and I didn’t have a lot of choices about what to do. I had to do what was necessary at that time in order for me to survive the bombing. When I saw the first fire in my village I knew that I couldn’t go back because I would not survive. I just started walking, not knowing where I was going. I was hoping I would be safe but I didn’t know for sure what was ahead of me.

I walked for miles to the border of Ethiopia. It was there that I was resettled in a refugee camp where I stayed for almost four years. I walked for four months before I got help from the United Nations refugee camp. Then Civil war broke out in Ethiopia and because of this, we were forced to go back to Southern Sudan. I started to walk again toward the Kenyan border. The Kenyan government did not want us at first so the United Nations had to relocate us. Later on, the Kenyan government changed their mind and we were resettled in a refugee camp there. Again, there was not enough food to eat. The United States government decided if anybody in this world was tired, hopeless and poor it was us and they called us the Lost Boys of Sudan.

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Jany Deng