This is a weblog for Lost Boys in America, Christian Sudanese refugees living in The United States of America. We plan to share our thoughts on current events and reflect on our experience in the Sudan and America.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Resources for moving forward

The African Soul, American Heart Foundation is moving into a new phase of looking for partners and resources to help us move our building project forward.

UN Habitat has an urban focus, but Duk Payuel might be considered urban if it keeps growing. The village would benefit from some urban planning. It also has a Youth Fund that a youth group in Duk P. might be able to apply for.

The Auroville Earth Institute seems to be the world leader in eathen construction techniques. They show a list of classes for 2008, but I suspect they are still offering classes.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Overcoming Compassion Fatigue

Compassion Fatigue : How the Media Sell Disease, Famine, War and Death Compassion Fatigue : How the Media Sell Disease, Famine, War and Death by Susan D Moeller

Susan D. Moeller concludes Compassion Fatigue with an antidote that affirms the importance of stories like Joseph's personal story, and the importance of having him speak in schools, churches, to service groups--anywhere people are willing to hear and learn from him.

"We need to be put in as close contact as possible with people at risk. We need nuanced and in-depth coverage of crises and we need to hear and see the human side too. The former without the later is boring, the latter without the former is sensationalized. To get it right, the media need to think of both the short term and the logn term. They need to think of both their own interests and the 'public interest.'" (321)

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tayeb Salih: Season of Migration to the North

Season of Migration to the North (African Writers) Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Salih's unnamed narrator returns to Sudan during the year of its independence, 1956, poised to apply his British PhD in English poetry to the post-colonial independence of his village and country, only to find himself caught between tradition and modernization. The narrator considers suicide in the final scene of the novel, but instead calls for "Help!" as he floats in the middle of Nile. This call, which I read to be a literal call to the reading world, to the host cultures that embraced his novel, was never seriously answered; the ending is perhaps even more powerful and emphatically literal today.

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Jamal Mahjoub: Navigation of a Rainmaker

Navigation of a Rainmaker (African Writers Series) Navigation of a Rainmaker by Jamal Mahjoub

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Mahjoub's first three novels, Caroline A Mohsen points out, "emulate the turmoil and uncertainty of Sudan" (541). In Navigation of a Rainmaker, the main character, Tanner, is a lost soul, part Arab Sudanese, part British, who finally asserts himself by killing a mercenary-type American who has come to Sudan in the early 1980s to stimulate instability, rather than work towards peace. The American's moment of revelation is a powerful statement of neo-colonial goals in Africa: "I am here to instill confusion, to sow the seeds of discontent" (168). He taunts Tanner, "you're not the type to act" (169). Faced with roughly the same challenge as the narrator of Season—to act or not to act—Tanner kills the American but is wounded in the skirmish. His last thoughts before dying turn to his sense of purpose—he wants to know if he made a difference, if anyone noticed (183-84). But the novel makes it clear that Tanner's actions were too late, and that the cycles of violence will continue. The novel is prophetically dark, written during the first few years of what would become a 22-year civil war.

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Dave Eggers: What is the What

What Is the What What Is the What by Dave Eggers

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Eggers weaves together three dominant plots, engaging readers in the present and the past, in the historical-political and the personal. The first plot consists of two days of Deng's life in Atlanta, starting with an assault on him by three petty thieves, a 14-hour visit to an Atlanta hospital, and his first shift back at work after the assault. Eggers uses this plot to provide commentary on the resettlement process and life in America. Eggers also has Deng tell his life story (silently) to the seemingly uninterested characters he meets, addressing Michael the crook, Julian the hospital worker, and the members of the Century Club where Deng works. Readers see and feel Deng's 800 mile walk from Marial Bai, Sudan to Pinyudo, Ethiopia. They learn the history and politics of Sudan on this walk and a second walk three years later, from Ethiopia to Kakuma, Kenya, another 300 miles, and they see the epic journey completed as Deng prepares for and resettles in Atlanta. Embedded within this public tale, reasonably well known and covered by American media, is Deng's personal story, most notably his love for a young Sudanese woman who was killed after resettlement by another Sudanese refugee. This structure gives the novel a powerful ending point: Deng coming to the realization, after being beaten and ignored, that he must share his story with everyone he meets, as a way to exert his existence, and close "the collapsible space between us" (475).

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Mary Pipher: The Middle of Everywhere

The Middle of Everywhere: Helping Refugees Enter the American Community The Middle of Everywhere: Helping Refugees Enter the American Community by Mary Bray Pipher

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book is full of heart-breaking and uplifting stories about refugees resettling from their war-torn countries to Lincoln NE, an unlikely location but increasingly "the middle of everywhere". This book as functioned as a touchstone and guide in my own interactions with the refugee population in Fargo. I lifted a phrase to start my own manuscript; refugees, Pipher tells us, move "from fire to fire". Life in America comes with its own tremendous challenges and risks. She also taught me "that giving never makes one poorer;" a aphorism that has proven true to me over and over again. She has taught me, with a little help from John Dau, that "I can do more."

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From Fire to Fire: The Lives of Refugees (and what individuals can do to welcome them)

I (Kevin Brooks) have shared some draft material of my manuscript, From Fire to Fire: The Lives of Refugees (and what individuals can do to welcome them) on a blog theme that allows for easy commenting, paragraph by paragraph.

Please take a look and share your thoughts.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Student actions: overcoming compassion fatigue

Student actions to overcome compassion fatigue can range from the simple e-activism to on-the-ground participation in the rebuiling of Sudan.

1. Become a fan of "African Soul, American Heart" on Facebook, but don't just be fan--get active.
2. Invite Joseph to speak to your home town, your church, your high school, or your college. Help him tell his story and complete his project in Sudan.
3. Start or join awareness groups: STAND, ONE.org, Stop Genocide Now
4. Join local efforts, like "Hike to Help Refugees".
5. Get really ambitious; got to Sudan (or elsewhere) as a friend and partner. The Davis Peace Award allowed an undergraduate from Clarkson, and a Sudanese refugee in the US, to renovate a school room in Bor county over the summer of 2009. The report alludes to the high cost of doing work in southern Sudan, but it does not give dollar figures.

Become inspired by the refugees stories you hear and read, then share your own.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Presentation Video

I am presenting about ASAH today and plan to show this video before I show our documentary.

Presentation Map

I am talking about and showing African Soul, American Heart today, and want to share this map with the audience.

View Refugee Journeys in a larger map

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

New South Sudan Video

Matt Dillon filmed and directed this short piece about the current crisis in southern Sudan.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

ASAH coming to Wahpeton

The Wahpeton Daily News did a nice job covering Joseph's visit this Wednesday, April 22. The reporter did a great job of talking to our host, Sybil Priebe, about why ASAh is relevant to Wahpeton and their college, North Dakota State College of Science.