Lost boy of Sudan relives nightmare after returning to help homeland

January 13, 2014
Photo: South Sudan(Photo: Courtesy of Frenny Jowi)
Daniel Majok Gai returned to his homeland when South Sudan became a country to set up schools there. But recent violence forced him and his family into hiding.
When Gai was just six years old, he became one of the “Lost Boys of Sudan.”   Separated from his family, Gai had to walk a thousand miles to escape violence.  
Earlier this month, Gai relived some of that trauma as he hid in the bush in South Sudan with his family and neighbors. 
Gai had been working in the South Sudanese province of Jonglei helping build schools with a Colorado-based non-profit, Project Education South Sudan, when he says rebels came to town. 
Gai says when the shooting started, he, his wife, son and 90-year old father fled to the jungle outside of town.
"That moment we were not even thinking of taking our clothes, a bottle of water or anything else," Gai said. “We had nothing to eat, we had no clean water, so we had to drink dirty water.”
Gai’s family and about 100 others spent a week living in the bush, surviving on a few sacks of flour and beans collected after sneaking into town.
While in hiding, Gai's 9-month-old son became dehydrated and ill. 
"My son got sick and I could not stand to watch him dying," Gai said.
Eventually, Gai was able to get his family out of the country and is now staying with his family in Nairobi.
More than a thousand people have been killed and hundreds of thousands displaced because of civil unrest in South Sudan. South Sudan is the world's newest country, becoming independent from the north in the summer of 2011.