More than two million people were killed and 20,000 boys were orphaned or displaced during the Sudanese Civil War. These “lost boys” left their villages in the midst of government savagery inflicted upon civilians. The younger boys escaped and walked for years to reach refugee camps. Salva Dut is one of the young men who made epic journeys to relief camps. During those epic journeys, they faced death on a daily basis in the form of soldiers, wild animals, disease, thirst, and starvation. All of this was more life-affirming
than remaining in their villages to be caught in one of the bloodiest wars of the 20th century.
Despite the fact that psychologists, examining the boys who survived, say they are the most badly damaged of all war-traumatized children ever studied, many of these young men made the best of their circumstances as they adjusted to their new hones. About 3800 of them are in the United States. Salva Dut is one of them.
Upon his arrival in Penfield, New York, he struggled to learn English, earn his GED, and then an Associate’s Degree in Business at a local community college. He went on to acquire a Bachelor’s Degree in International Business from the State University of New York. Two days after the bombing of the twin towers, Salva Dut became an American citizen.
Although he was only 11 at the time, the boys with whom Salva traveled nearly two thousand miles, elected him a leader. In that position, he was responsible for the lives of 1500 other boys. Young as he was, he realized he needed to draw upon the opinions of others in making life-threatening decisions. Salva Dut regards listening as the most critical of all leadership skills. He has formulated these guidelines to help other leaders.
• Listen to the people you are leading.
• Make sure the negative viewpoint is clearly adjusted before moving on. Do not simply ignore it.
• Be patient with your people.
• Be aware and take action immediately before anyone takes a step
• Talk with the people; learn what the majority have to say
• Make a decision after hearing all the voices, after exploring both the advantages and disadvantages to every possible leadership course of action.
Several years after his arrival in America, Dut learned that his father was terribly ill. He returned to his homeland to see him. His father, suffering internally and externally from parasites that came from unclean drinking water, did not recognize him at first. It had
been 16 years. Seeing the conditions with which the villagers were living, Dut determined to alleviate their suffering. He has subsequently formed a charitable organization, Water for Sudan, Inc., which is drilling wells so the Sudanese people can drink clean water.
Water for Sudan, Inc. • PO Box 25551 • Rochester, NY • 14625 • (585) 383-0410 http://www.waterforsudan.org/