Dragonfly In the Sky

There is nothing more one should adhere to or admire than a world of curiosity. My curiosity for the Patoor Village in Sudan brought a happy change into my life. Many days in the village, the boys were always wondering where this big dragonfly shape in the sky with such magnificent vivid smoke would come from. While we would look after the cattle, some among us would go back to our parents and ask about this mysterious machine in the sky, and most came back with short answers like “American,” with no further explanation. It was almost like a fairy tale to us; I guess maybe that was the start of our curiosity.

On 21 August 1987, the country of Sudan had declared war on herself, which had an effect over our settlement in the main areas of the South. All the villagers had come under attack by the Muslim armies at that time, which had stirred everyone to run off for their lives. This event has never left me since that is the day in which I had separated from my parents. I, along with others from my village, took a three-month journey to find refuge along the border of Ethiopia passing over the desert (or Sahara of Ager) within the southern region of Sudan. After crossing over to the other side of the border, the sounds of guns began to quell, and that is when we started a new life in the diasporas of the villages, since we all came from different places within Sudan and also had different ethnic languages. The villagers inhabited a refugee camp called Panyindo in that area of the border, while others went and occupied other places, such as Itang and Dimo camps.

The resettlement in these provisional places were not easy, since the government of Ethiopia was not willing to help us further than allowing us to camp on this small side of the land. However, at least they were generous to spare our lives from these vicious forces who wanted to kill off anything male and enslave anything female. After three months of tough survival in the camp, I.R.C.C., which stands for the “International Red Cross Committee,” came on the scene. I guess they were coming to check on us and to witness the famished conditions that we were in. It was eight o’clock in the morning of August 1987 when these legions were landing in our camp. Though I was wretched with hunger, I still had to stand up with my emaciated body and venture over to this flying dragonfly-shaped object the I.R.C.C. had arrived in.

Even with the strife, the curiosity for the dragonfly shape had continued to reside in my mind. It was like a dream come true, that the anisoptera that we used to talk about while looking after cattle in our village had finally come near me; I was vigorously willing to learn about it all. So, I asked the officer who was about to welcome this group, “What is this flying object in the shape of dragonfly?” The officer answered, with quick emotion, because he was in a hurry to go to the open field before this object was about to touch the ground: “It is an airplane that delivers white people.” I thought, “What does the officer mean by airplane and white people?” I was confused, but still waited to let everything calm down before I could ponder what he meant. Ten minutes later, the dragonfly finally hit the ground with a thunderstorm sound. I thought, “Wow!” And, in a few seconds, six white workers came out of this wonderful object, and the whole crowd were running after them because this was the first time most of our peers had seen white people in our lifetimes. Moreover, the different languages the I.R.C.C. agents were using created more curiosity in everyone’s minds on that day.

Later that evening, there was much distrust among the villagers in the camp. All were talking about how our complexions were different from the agents’. All we had known from the time we were born was the swarthy skin around us. Some among us were very much concerned about where they had come from and what kind of language they spoke; all of this formed the rising cloud-puzzle that day in the camp. This also indicated the negative impact in the minds of the oppressed who were kept behind bars for so many years. The Muslim government of the Northern Sudan thought they would keep the genocide of the Sudanese as a secret that would never be detected around the world.

We were unsure if the I.R.C.C. was part of this secret. However, the day we began to build trust with the I.R.C.C. was after they returned on the third day with medicine and blankets to be distributed among new arrivals in the camp. While some villagers were inoculated for a variety of diseases, most commonly malaria, many others European agencies and U.S. agencies were able to swarm into the camp to observe and secure the rugged environment that we were in. A few months later, we were given food rations by these agencies—American corn, bread, sardines—the European Union and USAID were dominant among the rest in helping bettering our condition.

Before we were able to relocate to a new camp, the Ethiopian government declared war on itself, and we were coerced back to Sudan, which created a very dangerous atmosphere for us. We were held at gunpoint while dodging bullets from both military forces on the Gilo River between the Sudan and Ethiopian borders; thousands of us were drowned or shot by the bullets. We were 27,000 young boys in number when we were in the refugee camp, but due to the incident on the Gilo River, there were only 16,000 left of us, which was the biggest loss over the course of our flight: We were trekking and finding refuge again until we reached the Kenyan border in 1992.

The curiosity again continued. After spending nine years in the Kakuma camp in Kenya, we were told that we will be resettled permanently in the United States of America. The process of resettlement began in 1999 and by the end of 2001, we were able to fly to the States with the famous name of the Lost Boys and Girls of Sudan, which was the symbol or status to remind the world about what had happened to us in the Sudan. I couldn’t believe the day I flew to Chicago. I could not believe that one day I would fly inside of what we used to called “the dragonfly”; within the dragonfly was an amusing modern steel carpeted chair and a television screen, which navigated the flight route. Never before had I ever gazed upon a television screen; I was hypnotized. We were told by the pilot that the flight was going to take off and to put our seatbelts on before leaving Kenyatta International Airport; in a few minutes, we found ourselves up above the sky. I was so happy and also nervous about the height at the same time. Everything began to disappear right below the ground. I felt like those birds of the sky; eighteen hours later, I finally reached my destination. It was such jubilant feeling using airplane for the first time, which I still recall every time my mind retracts back to the past.

If it wasn’t for my curiosity and my memories of Patoor Village, I could not have found out about “America” or endured all kinds of hardship in the refugee camp until my lucky day came and brought me to America. I had become the member of American society as it is today. So it is very important for an individual to consider curiosity with good memories as true courage in order to deal with difficult circumstances, no matter what the cost. One should seriously be inquisitive in order to be successful with whatever goal one intends to achieve.]