So what happened to the boys? These boys arrived with ghastly memories of vicious unpleasantness at home, a horrendous journey to an unknown destination, bereavement issues, no english and no family or friends. Their shared language was Arabic, but the three boys spoke two other languages as a mother tongue.
They were the wrong age to really benefit from help locally. Too old to get help from school, too young to access College courses.
It was all very strange initially – first electricity and then magic lights that turn on when you touch them. Food that looked different for boys who had never cooked, BOGOF !!!!! They began to learn English but it was hard to find the right type of support, and inevitably they enjoyed speaking normally with their friends.
They acquired bikes and discovered an independence, they tried new foods and chocolate, they found people who shared their culture and made friends with people who did not. One of them tried Beer [his face was a picture].
It was fascinating to watch them try and accept or discard new experiences. But they tried. And I took them to the Sculpture Park and to the seaside – Sudan has a tiny coast line a long way from Darfur – and to the theatre and cinema. They learned so easily, and then tried for themselves.
They also discovered their own ways forward and became political – people who might really bring about change in their country. One travelled to Holland and to France to meet with activists, another became part of a local refugee group to help newcomers. They speak to their families on Skype – not surprisingly the mobile phone is endemic in a country with little electricity, let alone telegraph poles.
These were three very different people. After a couple of years, we have all lost touch with one of them. The word is that he might have mental health problems and be living in a town about an hou away. The other two have attended College and got some exams. Both have english girlfriends – but there are very few Sudanese girls available. Both are parts of larger groups of escapees and spend time with them too. One already has his driving license, has worked night after night as a security guard and has his own insured car. The other plays basketball for a team, has had trouble finding work, but has gone to extra courses in IT, and has been on holiday with his friends.
I am very proud of them both. Both would go home on a heartbeat if it were safe, but it isn’t. So they stay here and work towards the day when…..