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Book tells vivid details of Sudanese war

By Henna Puthalavan
On April 13, 2018

In 1993, Kevin Carter captured the stench of death in Sudan with his camera. His photograph “Starving Child and Vulture” showed the depth of famine. A child who seems like a skeleton toddle on the dry land, he was trying to freeze that moment within a photograph.  

At the same time, a hungry vulture flew from the sky and landed just behind her. To us, this is a story which we heard through media, but how would it be acted upon if someone face the same situation? 

“They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky” is an autobiographical story of three lost boys from Sudan. Co-authored by Judy A. Bernstein, the three boys, brothers Benson Deng and Alephonsion Deng, along with their cousin, tell their story.

These three boys were as young as 5 years old and no older than 7 years old when the second Sudanese Civil War started between the central Sudanese government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. Between the three of them, they lost their house, their cattle and their parents. When the rebels burned their village, the boys were frightened and ran in different directions. 

The story becomes very heartwarming when they decided to flee their country in hopes of entering Ethiopia to live a better life. 

Rather than making the decision to leave their country, Sudan People’s Liberation Army strongly encouraged that the citizens leave at all costs. With how young the three boys were with little knowledge of what was going on, they followed the crowd of people leaving Sudan. 

They walked through the wild jungle, desert and crossed the Nile River without sufficient water and food for 3 to 4 months.  

The pain of their situation is visible when Benson writes, “We had to wait for the wooden boats in tall, swampy reeds. I was so hungry that I picked up some bones of a fish that had already been eaten by a fisherman. Although there was no meat on them, the bones kept my mouth busy so that I wouldn’t forget how to eat.”  

After struggling to make it through the walk, the last of the group made it to Ethiopia. Many people died along the way due to thirst, hunger, diseases and some were taken alive by a loin.  

When their journey came to an end, they moved to Kenya and stayed in a refugee camp. There, they signed up to partake in the Lost Boys of Sudan program and later relocate in America.  

The story is a dagger to the heart which continues to bleed as the reader falls in love with these three boys. Those interested in reading post-colonial stories will enjoy “They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky”.

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