In 2001, airplanes landed around the United States to deliver some of the 3,800 refugees known as the Lost Boys of Sudan to their new lives. They began their journeys in the late 1980s, when war in southern Sudan forced thousands of young boys away from homes and families. Several thousand of the Lost Boys wandered for months in search of safety. Many died of hunger, disease, or animal attacks, but survivors came of age relying on one another, forging a brotherhood.
In 1991, after about four years in camps in Ethiopia, more than 200,000 Sudanese refugees fled back toward Sudan to escape Ethiopia’s civil war. Daniel Khoch, Peter Anyang, Marko Ayii, and Jacob Magot were among them.
After two days of walking, Daniel, Peter, Marko, and other Lost Boys from the Dimma refugee camp, ranging in age from 7 to 12 years old, came to the banks of the Gilo River, which divides Ethiopia and Sudan, swollen after days of heavy rain. Daniel remembers hundreds of boys on the banks of an overflowing river, crying: "They needed help, but there was nobody to help." He talks about wading into the river, arms flailing, trying to swim, aware even in the chaos of crossing that the current was sucking under one of his friends. He remembers two other friends who were "cut into pieces" by a crocodile that pulled their bodies below water that was "full of blood," but Daniel somehow made it across the river, to the other side, back to Sudan.