I have to admit that I am not someone who always has a book in her hand. It isn't necessarily easy for me to find a book that I want to dig my nose in and to be quite frank, I just dont have any damn time to consistently devote. Having said that, I would like to introduce you all to What is the What by Dave Eggers.
This book has captivated my interest in so many ways. My heart bends back and forth each time I open the pages. Its an autobiography of a man named Valentino Achak Deng, written by Eggers. Achak was about 6 or 7 years old when he involuntarily became one of the thousands and thousands of lost boys from Sudan. He watched as his village was burned, his family and friends beaten and killed, eaten by lions, forced to become slaves, and collapse from starvaton. He walked in a group of hundreds of other boys around his age thousands of miles thru a war torn country suffering from a seemingly unstoppable genocide, dodging all those out to kill them. They walked thru Sudan into Ethiopia to a refugee camp until they were forced from there and into Kenya. He spent a total of about 15 years in the refugee camps and now currently resides in the United States only to live another life of turmoil and distress.
This is a true story, and Valentino is my age. These civil wars have been happening since the 80's and for me to imagine a life such as his is mind blowing. About a year ago I traveled to Africa to visit my good friend Yune from college who has been doing Peace Corps for the past 2 years in Cameroon. It was an experience I will never forget. Because of my trip, not only is Valentino's story heart breaking, but I can also envision many of his descriptions of villages, the buildings, and food. Granted Cameroon and Sudan are completely different countries however I cannot help but to compare the images in my head to his discriptons of what happened. This may be a bit ignorant, yes, but I think Americans are generally ignorant to what is going on outside their bubble. Shit! I know I am. I highly recommend this book to everyone. The more people who are educated in what is going on will create a larger support for serious change and peace in Sudan. That war was stared over dispute in land between the Dinka and the Muslims and unfortunately oil was a huge part in that. George Bush senior had a hand in pointing all that out too.
PS: My friend Gwen is traveling to Cairo on Tuesday for a month. Gwen and her friends are clowns who are going to Egypt to spend time with the Sudanese and Muslim children in the refugee camps. This will be the 3rd year she has gone. I wish her all the best in her travels.