Unlike most children, Dut Bior’s childhood featured a tragic exodus, which began with gunfire in his village where he heard screaming and saw people fleeing.
“It was as early as four in the morning when I heard the gunshot,” Bior said. “There was so much noise happening. I was scared, so what did I do? I decided to run.”
A “lost boy” from Sudan, Dut Bior bared his heart Monday as he presented to a small gathering of students and faculty.
Hosted by several campus organizations, the presentation “The Story of One of the Lost Boys of Sudan: Dut Bior” gave Wildcats a a rare glimpse into Bior’s life as a Lost Boy from Sudan, a survivor uprooted by the Sudanese civil war.
“Before the war started, life was really great. It was a really beautiful experience for me, and it was those beautiful moments that I had carried through my life as a refugee kid,” said Bior during his talk. “Because late 1987, that’s when everything changed.”
As the lights dimmed in the Wildcat Theater, Bior shared his story of “achieving immortality” as a lost boy surviving in South Sudan, a country in East-Central Africa.
“As he was traveling, he saw all this war, carnage and mayhem and watched as some of the boys were kidnapped and turned into child solders,” said Julie Rich, geography department associate professor. “It’s amazing to see the courage and the will of these young children that survived the ordeals that they did.”
Dut Bior spent most of his life in refugee camps until he was finally relocated to Utah in 2006. He currently lives with professor Julie Rich’s brother, Joe Rich, and is attending Weber State as a part-time student.
Julie Rich asked Bior if he could be a guest speaker to share his experiences. She believed his story needed to be told to gain a better understanding of how war impacts innocent people.
Bior fled his village as a child to escape the Sudanese civil war invasion.
According to Bior, the civil war displaced an estimated 27,000 boys from their families in southern Sudan. These boys, ranging in age from five to ten years old, ran to Ethiopia for refuge where more than half of them died before reaching the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya.
Trekking over 600 miles of harsh terrain for three months, these survivors became known as the Lost Boys of Sudan.
During his talk, Bior told the story of two boys who sacrificed their lives to save his own and then, in his words, had “achieved immortality.” After watching his TED-X talk, the audience learned that, for Bior, “achieving immortality” wasn’t just about surviving war but leaving behind a legacy that could be carried on.
According to Joe and Lisa Rich, the couple who are currently giving Dut Bior a place to stay, Bior is “achieving immortality” through his S.O.A.P (Student Orphan Aid Program) International organization where he is no longer a “lost boy” but a CEO.
“You’ll hear his phone ringing at all hours because people are calling him from Africa to get sponsored,” said Lisa Rich. “He’s amazing. He’s a really generous and genuine person. He comes from humble beginnings, and I have no doubt he will reach his goals.”
Bior hopes to “achieve immortality” through his organization, which is geared towards empowering impoverished orphans through education.
His wants to give 27,000 people an education to carry on the legacy of the 27,000 lost boys.
According to him, education equals hope, and helping others in small ways can make big changes. Despite his past, he is eager to make a difference in the world.
“(The Sudanese civil war) was really painful to have to go through, but what I decided to do was to embrace it, not complain about it, not being upset about it. I just embrace it,” said Bior. “And by doing that, I was not being held back by my past, so now I can think about tomorrow.”