John Bul Dau

In 1987, at age 13, John Bul Dau fled his home in southern Sudan, narrowly escaping troops sent to exterminate all black Christian males and starting a perilous journey spanning more than 1,000 miles and 14 years. He joined thousands of boys, now known as the “Lost Boys of Sudan,” who were crossing sub-Saharan Africa on foot. Many boys were killed or abducted before reaching a refugee camp in Kenya, where Dau spent the next ten years. After a United States church volunteered to sponsor several Sudanese refugees, Dau, who had never John Bul Dau seen electric lights or flush toilets, entered America. The story of his cultural relocation and assimilation is traced in the award-winning documentary God Grew Tired of Us. “The filming meant giving up my privacy,” Dau explains, “but I knew it might spread the word and help my people.”

Helping his people has become a focus of Dau’s life; he also works 60 hours a week while taking classes toward a degree in public policy from Syracuse University. Through Dau’s initiative, the Sudanese Lost Boys of New York Foundation was established, raising funds for Sudanese refugees. Dau also created the American Care for Sudan Foundation, which has raised more than $170,000 to build a clinic in southern Sudan. He is president of the John Dau Sudan Foundation, where he is working to raise funds for health and education projects in southern Sudan.