A “Lost Boy” returns, transforming lives in South Sudan
In 1985, Sudan was wracked by civil war.
Millions died. Millions more were displaced, fleeing for their lives to refugee camps in Ethiopia, Kenya, and other neighboring countries. Finally, in 2005, after over two decades of war, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed. A truce was declared and the semi-autonomous Government of South Sudan (GOSS) was established for that region. On July 9, 2011 the Republic of South Sudan celebrated its independence, becoming the newest nation on earth.
Among those who fled through barren, war-torn southern desert were thousands of children, mostly boys, some as young as five. They became known as “The Lost Boys of Sudan."
Salva Dut was one of those boys. As an 11-year old Dinka from Tonj in southwest Sudan, Salva fled first to Ethiopia. Then later, as a teenager, he led 1500 "Lost Boys" hundreds of miles through the Southern Sudan desert to the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. That courage and heroic perseverance continue to this day. Relocated to the United States in 1996, he now leads Water for South Sudan, Inc., the non-profit organization he founded in 2003.
The organization is based in Rochester, New York and South Sudan. Salva holds dual citizenship as an American and South Sudanese. He now spends most of the year in Africa, overseeing Water for South Sudan’s drilling operations. During his travels to the US and other countries, he works to educate people about South Sudan and fund-raise for the work of Water for South Sudan.
Salva’s knowledge of local cultures, his contacts within the South Sudan government and other non-governmental organizations enable Water for South Sudan to operate effectively in ways that few development organizations can.
Salva's story is told in the New York Times bestseller A Long Walk to Water, by Linda Sue Park.
In August, 2017, Salva was honored as a Hearts on Fire Visionary.