ARIZONA DAILY WILDCAT FEATURE STORY Monday, October 4, 2004 15
— America — for them to be eligible to apply for choose what to eat when they
U.S. citizenship. can see it first. Menus can be Continued from page 13
After nine years in the They speculate it will take difficult sometimes, and they school, and yet you are 22 and you are at
refugee camps the men knew longer, though. They the university,’” Ayuen said. “And she told
they might soon be relocated, moved to the United me, ‘If you want, you can still go when-
so they prepared to move. They States between April and ever you want.’”
watched for announcements daily August 2001, before the I wanted to die; I Conover, now a third-year law student
Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. at the UA, said watching the first 10
to see if their names appeared on
lists of American cities. Since the attacks,the INS felt useless. refugees graduate from Pima Community
has been absorbed by College over the past two years was
The Lost Boys’ moves were
the Department of — Khoor Malual incredible.
sponsored by non-profit human
“I was so proud of them,” Conover
service agencies in the United Homeland Security,
said. “They’ve accomplished so much in
States and Australia. which could mean a
such little time, after having everything
The ones sent to Tucson longer wait for U.S. citizenship for said they still haven’t adjusted ripped from them.”
received help from Jewish Family the 3,800 Lost Boys in America. It completely to the taste of Laura said as time has passed and the
and Children’s Services and the also means the 1,000 still in American food. men’s reading and writing has improved,
International Rescue Committee. Kenya do not know when they They drink juice and soda. her visits with them have became more
These agencies sponsored the will be able to start life in a new They cook rice, pasta and chick- social.
boys in pairs, so they would be country. en, a change from the food they “Sometimes they were already done
sure to have at least one other had in Kenya, although with their weekly homework and they
most still only eat one just wanted to hang out, and it was a
Lost Boy to live with.
meal a day. great time to practice English and ask a
In April 2001, the first of the
million-and-one bizarre American ques-
Lost Boys left Africa. More than 70 tions,” Conover said.
Lost Boys took the 36-hour flight With 14 of the refugees now enrolled
to Tucson. Some didn’t eat the full-time at the UA, Conover said she
entire time because the food on sees less of them than she used to, but
the planes was foreign to them. she still makes an effort to visit them
“The salad was like grass. I every weekend.
eat salad now, but not then,” “It’s starting to change because their
Abraham said. lives are changing so much right now,”
When they arrived in the Conover said. “It’s a little bittersweet.”
Khoor Lukuach Malual, a mathemat-
United States and went through
ics and electrical engineering junior,
Immigration and Naturalization
said Conover has been more than a
Services, officials had to guess the friend to him and the others.
boys’ ages. Many were assigned “A good friend
a Jan. 1 birthday because they did is one who actu-
not know their actual birthday or ally comes to see
age. you sometime
After a conversation with his and say, ‘How
father a few years ago, Daniel are you?’ That is
said he thinks he is closer to 29, the kind of friend
even though he is 24 according to we need,” he said.
legal documents. Conover has also
The route walked by the Lost Boys taken them out to
Daniel is one of the lucky ones between 1987 and 1992. restaurants, stores and
who has contact with his immedi- MAP COURTESY OF THE CIA
places like bowling alleys
ate family. The only people the and roller rinks.
men can call are family members — A new world — “It was really a good thing to
who have moved to Uganda or meet Laura,” Ayuen said. “We
Kenya. The men who have family In the United States, the
did not know if we
there usually talk to them about Lost Boys were thrust into a could meet peo-
once a week. Very few of them world they’d never imagined, a ple like that
know where their parents are, culture they didn’t understand before.”
except that they are somewhere and a community like none Conover said
in Sudan. they’d ever seen. when she first
U.S. agencies found housing “Coming here happened like decided to volun-
for the Lost Boys and paid their a dream. I didn’t want to come teer with the Lost
first four months of rent. They here. I didn’t know what it’s Boys, she thought it
helped the men find jobs and get like,” Khoor said. would be a short-term
into schools. The Lost Boys left their fami- commitment.
lies at such a young age, they “I just thought it was
The Lost Boys filled out I-94
never learned how to cook. going to be teaching them to
forms, declaring their status as
Abraham said the Lost Boys boil ride bikes a few Saturdays,” she said. “It’s
political refugees. changed my life.”
Once here, they applied for all their food because it’s the
Now, Laura said she feels like the
green cards, which can take up to only way they know how to
men are a part of her family.
a year to get. Some who applied cook.
“They have so much to share
later are still waiting for permanent For a weekend lunch, they Because Bior lives in a because they are all brothers, they all
cards. chose a Chinese buffet. Bior guesthouse, attached to a house come from the same tribe and it doesn’t
After they have their green Keech, 19, Daniel Keech’s step- in which five other Lost Boys matter blood line,” Conover said.
cards, it can take up to five years brother, said it is easier to live, he doesn’t use his kitchen. “They’re all brothers and that’s the
Instead of food, the counters way they viewed us, like sisters and
and cupboards are full of bas- brothers eventually. That was the gift
ketball shoes. that they gave us was that suddenly we
Bior went to Amphitheater had all these new brothers.”
High School for two years, In February, Conover invited the men
where he played basketball and to her wedding where they surprised
ran cross country and track. He her by performing a traditional Dinka
plays soccer with other Lost wedding blessing and singing and danc-
Boys on the weekends. ing at the ceremony.
Bior said he liked high “She’s our best friend and she’s get-
ting married, and we need to show the
school better than college,
love we had,” Malual said.
because it felt more like a family.
“It’s something I’ll never forget,”
The men came from a com- Conover said.
munity culture in which everyone Conover said her relationship with the
worked together and families were Lost Boys of Sudan has given her a new
huge by American standards. Most appreciation for life.
of their fathers had multiple wives, “It’s a friendship like I’ve never
because the larger the family, the known,” she said. “It represents some-
thing a little bit magical that they are
The Lost Boys commemorate the beginning of the even here. They see every day as extra,
civil war in Sudan every May 16. The event and you can’t help but pick up some of
includes ceremonial dancing and costuming, as that good, contagious life quality.”
seen in this May 2004 photo.
PHOTO COURTESY OF PETER AROK