Lost Boy John Dau's harrowing experience surviving the brutal horrors of Sudanese civil war and his adjustment to life in modern America is chronicled in his memoir and featured in an award-winning documentary film, ‘God Grew Tired of Us,’ to be released in 2007.
GOD GREW TIRED OF US is a book with passion, sadness, fear, perseverance, joy and humor written by John Dau, a member of the Dinka tribe of southern Sudan, who recounts his experiences as a refugee from the civil war that has been fought in his country since 1983 and resulted in the death of hundreds of thousands of Sudanese. Among the millions of refugees who sought refuge in neighboring countries were a group of about 20,000 children-most between the ages of 7 and 16, and many of them orphaned-who became separated from their families, and were forced to make their way, alone, across thousands of miles of treacherous landscape to a U.N. refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya. Along the way, more than half would succumb to starvation, disease, and attack. Dau, a 12 year-old when the war broke out, led 1,200 children on the flight from Sudan, 60% of them between 4 and 9 years old.
The book begins with John's life in Duk County, Sudan, before the war came in 1987. This early section will include an overview of Dinka culture and values. The Dinka center their lives on respect, consistency, hard work, and a commitment to Christianity. John then provides a very detailed account of how the northern "jellabahs" came to his village in 1987, "The Year of the Famine," and fired into it with automatic rifles, RPG's, and mortar shells. Separated from his family, John fled toward the east, seeking refuge from the fighting in Ethiopia. John stayed at Pinyudu, a camp in Ethiopia, for just over three years, until a coup d'etat brought a new government and forced John and the rest of the Sudanese Lost Boys back into Sudan. In Sudan, they moved from town to town, constantly heading south to avoid the advancing northern troops. The Lost Boys ultimately made it to a new refugee camp, Kakuma, in Kenya, and John ended up staying there for a decade, where he learned about America and studied to get his primary and secondary degrees.
John flew to the United States in August 2001, and his impressions of America are stunning. As he walked through the first grocery store he ever saw, which he visited on his first full day in America, he pointed to things that stunned him. There was a whole counter full of beef, but how could that be, as there were no cattle grazing outside? There was a bag of leaves for sale - salad? - and what could that be for, feed for goats? And there was an entire aisle devoted to dog food. How could that be, when people are starving in Africa, Americans have an entire aisle in their food store just to feed their dogs?
John talks about finding work, doing two jobs and sometimes three jobs at the same time, in order to send as much as he could back to Africa. His first month's deposit to his bank account totaled $1,010; he sent all but $10 back to Kakuma. He has created foundations to help the Lost Boys get college scholarships and to build a clinic in his homeland. In January 2006, he returned to his homeland to be reunited with his family, whom he found by an amazing coincidence after he came to America. John has devoted his life to hard work, respect, consistency, and the love of God. His story is an inspiration.