Thursday, January 02, 2003

Realizing the Dream

Yesterday was a day for watching hours of television, most of it mind numbingly simple which was perfect for the state I was in after celebrating the arrival of the New Year a bit too heartily the night before. Between episodes of the addictive I Love The 80's on VH-1 (what the hell was the embarrassing Hands Across America all about anyway?) and meaningless college football bowl games I did catch something worthwhile on Sixty Minutes II. They had a segment on the Lost Boys Foundation which has brought young Sudanese refugees from a camp in Kenya to the United States.

These refugees are mostly Christians who have been driven from their country by Islamists in the brutal civil war in Sudan. When they arrive in the United States they are assitsted by volunteers who help them get accustomed to a new lifestyle in America. Within a few months they need to get jobs to pay for their apartments and repay the government for the cost of their relocation. The boys (more like young men) featured in the story were working (sometimes more than one job) shortly after their arrival and planning on pursuing education to better themselves. They were grateful for the opportunity to change their lives and all planned on becoming American citizens.

What was really moving was that after September 11th the boys wanted to help out and offered to donate blood to the victims in New York. Doctors determined that they would not be good donors since many were still not in great physical condition because of the hardships they endured in Sudan and Kenya. So instead they started a collection of funds among themselves and raised $400. Not a lot of money by most standards but considering that they basically had nothing it was an extraordinary achievement.

It's easy to be cynical and jaded at times but seeing a story like this was a reminder of the power of the American dream and what it can mean for people who only ask for a chance to realize it. Check out the Lost Boys Foundation web site if you're interested in lending a hand.

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