We didn’t have choir rehearsal last night, thanks to David having another obligation, so I was free. At Hamilton College Chapel, John Dau was speaking at 7:30. Mr. Dau is one of the “Lost Boys of Sudan.” He left his village as it was being bombed one night in 1987, when he was 12 years old. Like many of the others who escaped, he walked for 3 months to get to Ethiopia, where the refugees eventually were forced out. He wandered for many months, eventually ending up at the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya.
Eventually he was granted asylum as a refugee in the US, and was resettled in Skaneatles, NY. When asked last night what his main challenges were in adjusting to US culture, he said, “Choices.” His hosts in Skaneatles asked him what he wanted to drink for dinner. He said, “soda.” They said, “what kind?” He couldn’t answer. In the refugee camp, you took what you were given and were thankful that you were alive. What did it matter what kind of soda he drank? He said it is the same shopping for toothpaste. All he wants is toothpaste! Why are there so many choices?
Now he is married and has children. His daughters were born and raised in the USA. They have no idea what his life was like as a refugee even though he tells his story. All they know is the abundance and the choices of their life in the US.
I am reminded of the simple blessings of being alive and am grateful.