January 16, 2008
John Bul Dau to speak at Cowley on Feb. 18
John Bul Dau, one of the “Lost Boys of Sudan”,
will discuss his life story and the importance of perseverance against
all odds while serving as the featured speaker at Cowley College on Feb.
Dau’s presentation will also focus on the importance of human rights and on ending the tragedy in Darfur.
The presentation will be at 7:30 p.m. in the Robert Brown Theatre with a live feed to the Southside Room F201 on the second floor. Phi Theta Kappa is sponsoring the presentation at Southside and will serve light refreshments.
High school and college students will
be admitted free, while the cost is just $5 for the general public.
Dau has experienced journeys in life that most people never imagine. He was born in war-torn Sudan, and in 1987, his village was attacked by government troops involved in the civil war involving the Muslim-controlled government in northern Sudan and the non-Muslims in southern Sudan. The violence scattered his family, and Dau was forced to travel on foot for three months until reaching the relative safety of Ethiopia.
Dau stayed in a refugee camp in Ethiopia for four years, but civil war then broke out, and he was once against forced to flee. As one of thousands of Sudanese Lost Boys, Dau wandered hundreds of miles and faced disease, starvation, and violence, until arriving in Kenya. After several years living in another refugee camp, he was sponsored by the First Presbyterian Church in Skaneateles, New York, and along with three other Lost Boys, came to the United States in 2001.
Despite the initial culture shock – women driving cars, huge stores filled with food – Dau has succeeded in the United States and can proudly say that he is living the American dream. Not only was he able to bring his sister, mother, and fiancée from Sudan, but while working 60 hours a week as a security guard, he received an Associates degree at Onondago Community College. He is currently pursuing a degree at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.
Additionally, Dau has begun two non-profit 501(c)3 organizations to help Sudanese youth in Syracuse and throughout the United States. The Sudanese Lost Boys Foundation of Central New York has raised $35,000 for books and medical expenses for Lost Boys in the United States. Additionally, he helped to organize the American Care for Sudan Foundation, which has raised over $150,000 for a medical clinic in southern Sudan. He has also been named the Director of the Sudan Project at Direct Change, a non-profit organization where he is working to raise funds for health and education projects in southern Sudan.
Dau’s move to the United States and early experiences in the country are the subject of the film God Grew Tired of Us, which won the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. His memoir, also entitled God Grew Tired of Us, was released in January 2007 by National Geographic Press.
Dau’s command of the English language has also helped assure that his voice and the voice of the Sudanese will be heard in the United States and around the world.
In his brief time in the United States, Dau has earned many awards for his public achievements and for his charitable work. He has received the Onondago Community College Distinguished Alumni Award, the Barney II Foundation Leadership Award, and the Good Society Award from the Maxwell School at Syracuse.