Monday, January 8, 2007

A Lost Boy lost.

"Gabriel Mading's path to America was typical of the so-called 'Lost Boys of Sudan': A thousand-mile trek from his war-torn African country to Kenya, several years in a squalid refugee camp there, and, finally, a wrenching goodbye, at age 12, to a mother who believed she was delivering him to a life of privilege and peace.

"Gabriel's remarkable journey ended on Nov. 29 at the Polk County Jail in Des Moines, where this lost boy - one among thousands to flee conscription, slavery and death - strangled himself with a torn bit of jail-issue blanket. He was 18.

"If Gabriel's life was a commentary on the turmoil that grips the African continent, his death offers lessons about the treatment of mentally ill people in Iowa and America. While this tall, slender young man had food and clothing enough - luxuries in his African homeland - he could not get what he most desperately needed: adequate care for his raging mental illness. Instead, he got a uniform, a number and the four walls of a jailhouse cell." The rest of this truly tragic story is here. It will break your heart.

I have recently completed reading They Poured Fire On Us From The Sky, the story of three Sudanese Lost Boys who survived incredible tragedy and hardship and who made it to begin new lives in America. It's a great book, one that's sad and inspiring at the same time, not unloke Elie Wiesel's memoir, Night. I'm going to get some of my middle schoolers to read it, in light of their studying the Holocaust last year. I recommend it to you all.