Local resident shares experience as 'Lost Boys of Sudan'

LAS VEGAS - On the heels of President Trump's executive order concerning immigrants, 8 News NOW spoke to local refugees who are sharing their stories.

Briar Atem is one of the 'Lost Boys of Sudan,' and he started a new life in Las Vegas.

"I was born in a village where people just live off the land," Atem said.

At the age of seven, Atem was forced to leave his family and childhood behind.  Atem said, fearing for his life during a time of war, he joined a group called 'The Lost Boys of Sudan, ' and he ran away.

"I had to walk more than 1,000 miles to get to a refugee camp, in Ethiopia."

The now 37-year-old said he spent 13 years in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya.  Atem said life away from home was difficult.  He said learning was even challenging.

"We use to write on the dirt because we didn't have enough schools supplies," said Atem.

But Atem has come a long way from his days as a young boy in a poor village in Sudan.  In the late 1990's, he finally got word he was eligible for refugee status in the U.S., so he filed his paperwork, and after a couple of years of waiting, Atem was given three days to pack up and head to the United States.

"Imagine going from the refugee camp where the only light that I had was the daylight to coming to Las Vegas at 10:30 p.m. was just like 'wow.'"

After leaving the Sudan, Atem said he didn't see his family for 21 years, but he finally got in touch with them in 2008.

"I was thinking of a day where I could go to Sudan and bring my family here," Atem said.

However, that day never came for Atem because both his parents have since passed away.  =

Atem became a U.S. citizen; he got a master's degree in accounting and has a wife and children.

"When I came to the state, I didn't think that I was going to do a lot of things. I just wanted to be safe," Atem said.

 


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