Monday, February 02, 2009

God Grew Tired of Us

I recently got a documentary from Netflix called God Grew Tired of Us. It's about the war in Sudan, thousands of refugee boys and the story of three who were given an opportunity to come to America. It broke my heart and made me angry.

After more than a decade of being exiled in Ethiopia and Kenya in refugee camps due to genocide in their country of Sudan, thousands of young men and boys created families and communities amongst themselves. They lived a life of limbo not knowing when or if they would ever be able to return to their homes and whether their families were dead or alive. They have been coined the Lost Boys. Many were given an opportunity to come to America to work and go to school, and this is the story of that transition among other things.

It was heartbreaking that they were lonely and unfamiliar here in the US. They missed their friends in the camp and still wondered about their families. They had to get used to running water, showers, refrigerators, different foods and jobs, which were often low paying and undesirable by most of our standards. But they persevered.

They worked hard, sometimes three jobs at a time in order to provide for themselves, send money back to the camp for their friends and family and for college. They worked hard and succeeded. One started a non profit to help other Lost Boys pay for their education. They were blessed for their hard work by eventually being reunited with their families and starting families of their own.

Often during the movie, Cameron and I just wanted to hug these guys and take care of them. We wanted to explain all the ridiculous and crazy American traditions and help them with their transition into this new life. I was touched by their dedication to their friends back in the camp and their love for a country they could never return to.

But then anger set in. I am often frustrated with the way welfare is handled in this country because I think it inhibits more than it helps. These boys were required to not only get on their feet and be self-sufficient in 3 months but were also required to pay back their travel costs from Kenya. Sure, nothing is free in this world, but how can we require it of these boys and not require that from our own people? Instead we have people living on welfare abusing the system with no intention of ever taking care of themselves. But these boys proved that it can be done and the end result was not just surviving but thriving.

They worked at McDonald's, in factories, as waiters... and they were not embarrassed but rather grateful for this opportunity. Did they love it? Probably not. But it got them to the next level. But so many of us have a sense of entitlement which makes us feel like those jobs are beneath us and we deserve better. But we are no better than these boys. We all have to work for the things we need and want. I was inspired by their attitude.


Tristen said...

I absolutely was moved by this documentary as well. They were so inspiring and my husband knew some of them when he was on his mission in New York. Fantastic men.

Kristyn said...

It is so sad, isn't it? I just finished reading 'A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier' which is about similar circumstances in Sierra was so depressing and sickening...very enlightening, though...I would recommend it if you can stand getting mad again.

Cannon and Kassie said...

I posted about this movie over a year ago...we loved it so much too. It was very heartbreaking, but so inspirational. How many of us would work as hard as they if we were displaced? I agree that in the US we feel as if we deserve this or that. Thanks for the thoughtful post :)

Stanton & Rubi Jones said...

i watched this movie about a year ago and felt very inspired by them as well. im currently reading "a long way gone" you should check it out.

teamkc said...

Those were my exact thougths while watching this movie...when did Americans become "entitled" to an easy life?! Why do refugees/immigrants work hard at the American Dream, but not citizens?! Grrr! SO frustrating! Thanks for eloquently writing what I thought!