Home playdates website archives

Orphaned by a tumultuous civil war in the Sudan and traveling barefoot across the sub-Saharan desert, John, Daniel and Panther were among the 25,000 "Lost Boys" who fled villages, formed surrogate families and sought refuge from famine, disease, wild animals and attacks from rebel soldiers. They traveled together for five years and against all odds crossed into the UN's refugee camp in Kenya, where they were selected to re-settle in the United States. Director Christopher Quinn explores the indomitable spirit of these three "Lost Boys," who triumph over seemingly insurmountable adversities to build active and fulfilling new lives while remaining deeply committed to helping those left behind. Narrated by Nicole Kidman.

 God Grew Tired of Us

Before the war started, I remembered very well the rich tropical and savannah climates we used to tend our cattle, goats, sheep with my friends and the beautiful dogs. The pastures of our livestock were so good and available throughout the entire year around. I remembered also when we took our livestock down onto the White Nile bank to drink the fresh water of natural springs from the second world largest of Lake Victory. With this amazing climates, southern Sudan was the great home of millions of wildlife including my favor animal “white and black monkey” called the flying monkey. I like it so much because of its entertainable manners and fun of flying from branch to branch without missing any single jump. Another favor one was Zebra because of its colors and cool friendly behaviors. –Panther Bior

The documentary God Grew Tired of Us is the culmination of nearly five years of work. Filming began in the summer of 2001 in Africa, on the border of Sudan and Kenya, at a UN refugee camp called Kakuma. There I met a group of orphaned young men known in the West as “Lost Boys” from Sudan.

Fourteen years earlier, these boys fled their villages when their idyllic life was, in a moment, brought to an end as Antanov planes rained bombs down on their villages. Men on horses came to kill the men, round up the young women and take them north into slavery. The boys were told by their parents to run because otherwise they would be killed. They fled. Most of them had little idea that they would never see their families again. The most amazing part of their story, one that I can never get over, is that they held together, opting for civility during even the most horrific periods. At that time, there were an estimated 22,000 boys, ranging in age from three to fifteen. They didn’t know William Golding’s pessimistic view of the world, as illustrated in Lord of the Flies. They didn’t regress into savagery. Rather, they took care of each other. A ten-year-old boy looked after a three and a five-year-old boy. They formed families in order to survive, and set a course through Sub-Saharan Africa in search of safety.

For the film, I found footage from an archive in London in which a cameraman had captured the end of the boys’ dreadful journey out of Sudan. They had finally crossed into Ethiopia. Thousands of them had died. The footage shows skeletal figures standing silent, most with their eyes closed, too tired to open them. An older boy, still honoring his new family bond, clutched an emaciated younger boy.

They had passed through a world without food or water. They were the ones who hadn’t been attacked or eaten by wild animals. They had survived the bombing raids of the Northern Arab government who wanted to see them finished off.

They are in America now, the 4,000 remaining boys from that first journey. Early on it was odd to see them make their way through our modern world. New things. A flight attendant’s message over the speaker heading out of Nairobi alarmed one of the guys so much that he asked me, “What place is the man speaking from?” Even more odd, having to explain to them that, yes, in America we have an entire supermarket aisle dedicated to food for dogs and that the freezer isn’t necessarily the place to store oven mitts or towels.

Today it’s been over five years since we met. They have become young Americans, transformed faces, vibrant and full from years living in the “land of plenty.” They are busy working jobs and going to school. They have gained and they have lost here in America. “It’s lonely, we miss our culture. Now we say this is mine, this is yours.” But they are also safe here and most look expectantly to their future. I have learned so much from them. Mostly what it’s like to be truly civil, but also that there is a line that should never be crossed—a dark place where you can honestly say “life is useless.” I want them to tell their story so others can hear and learn. I want, in any way we can, to stop the systematic eradication, the genocide, of these great people—the people of Sudan.

My Mother Cradle Homeland is gone for ever, I lost my rich soil, I lost White Nile, I lost Blue Nile, I lost Bar el jebel Rivers that hosting the millions of beautiful birds. The hope is gone for Sudan’s land. The world is useless with out my Country, my Homeland, my Rivers and livestocks. Sudan, the land used to flows with Honey, with Milk and sweet water for both human and animals alike. –Panther Bior