One of Sudan's "Lost Boys" finds himself voting for independence

Bol Deng Bol at his graduation from San Jose State University

San Jose resident Bol Deng Bol is from southern Sudan, and he traveled 12 hours by car to cast his vote in the Sudan referendum in Arizona. That may seem like a long way, but 12 hours by car is nothing compared to what Deng has been through.

Bol is one of the so-called “Sudan Lost Boys," who fled the south of the country, walking hundreds of miles through jungles with dozens of other young men to the refugee camps of Ethiopia and Kenya. You may remember them in the news about 10 years ago.

After living in the camps for 8 years, they were airlifted to the United States to live. They were in a new country, where they didn’t know the language, and had little education. They had lost family members, and were eased into American society by non profits and churches.

Bol Deng Bol is now program manager at Hope with Sudan, helping give back to his homeland: sponsoring orphans, buying school supplies for boys and girls, making a difference in Sudan while living in San Jose. Here is his story.

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BOL DENG BOL: My name is Bol deng Bol. I came here is 2001, after September 11. I left  my, my village in 1987, so I went to Ethiopia to go and study and all this. Then when I complete my high school I come to United States. Government sponsored us to come here.

When I come here, there are a lot of challenges that I face. It was challenging because this is a new place. I was not knowing where to stay. And the food that we eat like, is different. Most of the food we eat here like sweet, sweet food. And sweet food, when I try to eat it, is really completely different.

When I hear that there will be a vote, I was always monitoring the days to go voting. Because I never voting in Sudan, since I was born. So I was very excited, we get into the car, four of us. That is 13 hours driving.

Most of us here in San Jose – and people that I talk around like US, Southern Sudan and in Kenya – I never meet someone that say I am going to vote for unity. Because everybody knows, especially the people that are here right now in United States, they know what is going on. They know the consequences of war. Most of the people die in Kenya, and those in Southern Sudan, even then in the north. So when I was talking to a lot of people, I never met someone that said, "I am voting for unity."

When people want unity, even in the family, if people are united, it means that you are living together and that you respect each other. Now in the problem of south and the north, they have been together for long time. Since 1955, up to 2005, up to now, we still. We know each other, we have been living in unity, you know. And in Southern Sudan there is no infrastructure, no school, no anything. If some people now, witness, they go to the south, they know that there was a problem.

I will go back because I have my bachelor degree. I have a BS in business administration, marketing, and economics from San Jose State University. And I’m pursing my MBA this year. So for me, my main goal is to help people there.

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Bol Deng Bol voted for the independence of southern Sudan.

MUSIC: Emmanuel Jal “War Child”

MUSIC: Hamza Eldin “Salam”

MUSIC: Yaba Angelosi “Time to Vote”