The Lost Boys at Huntington Beach High

Benjamin and Benson, Lost Boys from Sudan at Huntington Beach High (March 2010)

Benjamin and Benson, Lost Boys from Sudan at Huntington Beach High (March 2010)

Last Thursday, this year’s HB Reads events came to a close, featuring three out of four authors of the book, They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky. All I can say is if you weren’t there, you really missed out.  Click here to see pictures from the event.

For many, Sudan is a country in Africa, as evidenced by a colored shape on a map. For those who had the privilege of being there in the Huntington Beach High School gym last Thursday, Sudan is known as the birth place, still sorely missed, of Benson, Benjamin, and others, the now grown men “Lost Boys” of Sudan. It is still hard to imagine all that they went through so early in life, surviving their journey out of Sudan against all odds, transitioning to life as refugees in Ethiopia, then Kenya, transitioning again to life in the U.S. There are no words to adequately describe what it was like to hear them tell their stories, encourage us to appreciate what we have, and use our opportunities to help bring peace to the ever-present homeland of their hearts, Sudan.

A couple of years ago the film Darfur Now was playing in theaters nationally, including one local to us in Irvine. OC for Darfur got permission from the theater’s manager to camp out in the lobby during screening times hoping that attendees might stop to chat with us at our table and choose to get more involved after having seen the film. That was the first time we met Jennifer Rojas, a Huntington Beach High School sophomore that year. Not yet possessing a driver’s license, her parents graciously drove her time and time again to attend our meetings in Newport Beach. When she got a driver’s license the next year, she continued to join us, able to drive herself. Now in her senior year of high school, she is still actively involved with us and over the years has volunteered at countless events we have held, not to mention helping us out with many of our Facebook posts.

Barbara, Peggy and Jennifer from OC For Darfur

Barbara, Peggy and Jennifer from OC For Darfur

Little did we at OCFD know that it was Jennifer, also an Orange County Human Relations intern, who encouraged HB Reads to select “They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky” as this year’s book. Several other books were nominated for consideration, but in the end, her suggestion won out, the result being that a lot of students and adults who might not otherwise know much about the suffering and the triumphs of the Sudanese people now have a better idea of what is going on in that country.

As we move forward, staying committed to difficult issues over the long haul, I think it is a deep belief in that which is unseen that will see us through. When we act according to what seems the right thing to do at the time, one never knows what else will develop down the road.

Our heartfelt thanks to HB Reads for doing such a great job in putting on this year’s events. Thanks to Benson, Benjamin and Judy for being there last Thursday to tell your stories in person. And thank you Jennifer for having been with us the past two and a half years. We will miss you in the fall when you leave for college!

“The Lost Boys of Sudan” screening this Thursday, Feb 11th

Hi everyone,

This week brings more great events from HB Reads, and I want to highlight two of them in particular. On Thursday evening, there will be a screening of Lost Boys of Sudan, and then on Saturday, a chance for you to meet one of the authors of They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky: The true story of three Lost Boys from Sudan. All details are noted below.

For a complete list of HB Reads events, see their Calendar of Events.

See you Thursday!

Barbara English

P.S. The suffering in Sudan is far from over. Here is an article from the BBC last week: South Sudan hungry ‘quadrupled in a year’

7 p.m., Thursday, February 11

Join HB Reads at a free documentary film screening of “Lost Boys of Sudan” (Unrated by the MPAA), at the Huntington Beach Central Library (7111 Talbert Avenue), Rooms C & D on the lower level. “Lost Boys of Sudan” is an Emmy-nominated, Independent Spirit Award-winning documentary that follows two Sudanese refugees on their journey from Africa to America. Safe at last from physical danger and hunger, “Lost Boys” Peter Dut and Santino Chuor find themselves confronted with the abundance and alienation of contemporary American suburbia. Please join HB Reads for a thought-provoking film and discussion.

2 p.m., Saturday, February 13
Meet a co-author of “They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky,” second level of Barnes & Noble at the Bella Terra Mall (7881 Edinger Avenue, Huntington Beach). This presentation and open book discussion provides a great introduction to the authors’ stories in advance of the “Lost Boys” visit to Huntington Beach on March 11.

Huntington Beach Reads selects book on Lost Boys for 2010

They Poured Fire On Us From The SkyEvery year, Huntington Beach Human Relations Task Force and the Huntington Beach Library engage the community, adult readers, students and families in Huntington Beach and read the same book at the same time for a community-wide experience.

This year they have picked They Poured Fire On Us From The Sky, The Story of Three Lost Boys From Sudan.  Here are some of the events they are organizing this quarter.


CHILDREN’S HOUR – 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Friday, January 29, 2010

HB Reads committee members Mary Lou Hughes, LeRoy Lucian, Sheryl Crockey and Chip Royston host two separate children’s hours at the Oakview Branch Library(17251 Oak Lane), one at 2 p.m. (kindergarten through third grade) and one at 3 p.m. (fourth through fifth grade).  Following the theme of this year’s featured book, the children’s hour features interactive African Drumming, dancing, crafts projects and storytelling.  This promises to be a rollicking good time for the little ones!

DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL – 7 p.m., Thursday, February 4, 2010

HB Reads hosts the documentary film “God Grew Tired of Us.”   Winner of the Audience Award at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival, God Grew Tired of Us is an engrossing account of John Bul Dau, Daniel Abol Pach and Panther Blor who were orphaned by the conflict in Sudan.  They were among the 25,000 “Lost Boys” who fled villages, formed surrogate families and sought refuge from famine, disease, wild animals and rebel soldiers. Filmmakers Christopher Dillon Quinn and Tommy Walker follow John,Daniel and Panther starting in a refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya, across the Atlantic Ocean, to their new life in America.  Please join us at the Huntington Beach Central Library (7111 Talbert Avenue), Rooms C& D on the lower level, for a film that will enrich your reading experience of this year’s book

BOOKFAIR– Sunday, February 7 through Saturday, February 13, 2010

Barnes& Noble at the Bella Terra Mall hosts a “Bookfair” as fundraising support for Huntington Beach Reads One Book (7881 Edinger Avenue, Huntington Beach).  Funds are used to purchase copies of the featured book for local high school students, host readers’ events, and to bring authors to Huntington Beach.  Tell the cashier you are participating in the Bookfair for Huntington Beach Reads One Book and a percentage of your purchase will be donated to the program.

This applies to any book, CD, or DVD you purchase during the Bookfair. For more information, call 714-374-5307. Help support HB Reads by making your purchases during February 7through February 13, just in time for Valentine’s Day! How about a poetry book for your valentine?

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Happy Birthday Lost Boys

In the late 1980’s, tens of thousands of Sudanese boys were forced from their homes by a devastating civil war between North and South Sudan. Without parents or a home to call their own, they became known as the Lost Boys.

With the help of organizations like the International Rescue Committee, several refugees were able to resettle in the US. With no birth records, all Lost Boys were assigned January 1 as their official birthday.

So, Happy Birthday Lost Boys – you and your story have not been forgotten. Additionally, your home, Sudan, has not been forgotten.

They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky, by Judy A. Bernstein, is a fascinating book about the remarkable journey of three Lost Boys from Sudan to the US. To learn more, click here.

Meet the (foster) parents

Joseph “Lopez” Lomong is a United States Olympic 1500-meter runner, and was the choice as the flag bearer of the United States at the Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony.

Below is an interview featuring Robert and Barbara Rogers, who took in six Sudanese refugees in their home.  Lopez Lomong was the first of these “Lost Boys” from Sudan to enter their life and forever changed it.

He came from the lowest wrung in a third world nation. And what he’d seen in the world, this broke every rule… why don’t you talk to your friends back home?  Don’t you want to tell them about your life in America?  He said, “They could not believe me.  They just have no frame to realize how every single American lives.” He’s made us see our world a little different…

(Robert Rogers, foster parent of Lopez Lomong)