"When people ask me about the life I've been though, they say, "oh, it's not true...you made up the story." If you have not been in that situation, you may actually not believe it. Some people really don't know what it's like in other parts of the world. They don't really understand that it's very difficult to be a refugee."
Referred to as a "Lost Boy" - a name given to the young refugee men of Sudan who traveled by foot to Kenya after fleeing civil war in their home country - JACOB is anything but lost. A driven, focused 19 year old, with the hopes of becoming a politician some day, JACOB works closely with his mentor, ERIK LADENBURG and his school teacher, MS. LOUIS to start a foundation he calls, "Teach the Children of Southern Sudan." This program, he explains, will raise funds to help send Sudanese refugee children and youth who are at the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya, to a local boarding school for a better education - something he says can help refugee children and youth eventually get a job, buy food, get medical care and hopefully chart a path for them out of the camp. Sitting in his school library, dressed in his baggy pants and his fleece jogging sweatshirt, he describes how hard it is to be a refugee and how he wants to do something to make the refugees he left behind better. For he says, when he goes to school, he can't shake the images of people back in the camp sitting around doing nothing and when he eats dinner, imagines those going to bed on an empty stomach. JACOB wasn't sure what it would be like coming to America as an unaccompanied minor and going straight into foster care, but his two years spent with his foster mom, ANDREA, her four-year old son, ISAIZ and two other Sudanese boys, JACOB and JOHN, have given him the support and knowledge he needs to graduate high school this year and begin college with a Bill Gates scholarship fund - all of which help build the skills he needs to make the difference he so adamantly intends to make.

Sudan: The Lost Boys

Since 1983, fierce fighting between the Islamic fundamentalist government and the guerilla Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), has uprooted more than 5 million Sudanese from their homes. In 1987, in order to escape the fighting and forced inscription in the SPLA, approximately 33,000 Sudanese youth fled across the desert to refugee camps in Ethiopia. This group became known as "The Lost Boys of Sudan" and has drawn much attention from the international community due their incredible story of flight from conflict, but also because of the unique social structure that formed within the group of youth separated from their families. In 1991, the refugee camps in Ethiopia were closed and the Lost Boys were sent back to Sudan. Many died from starvation or bombings by government planes while others were enslaved or taken by the SPLA. Those who survived walked thousands of miles to safety in Kenya. The Kakuma Refugee Camp in Western Kenya became the home to over 10,000 of the Lost Boys. In 2000 and 2001, with the urging of refugee workers and advocates, the US State Department approved a plan to resettle approximately 3,800 of the Lost Boys in homes across the United States.