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Fear comes true as 'Lost Boy's' South Sudan clinic destroyed

Ryan Delaney
John Dau, a former "Lost Boy" Sudanese refugee, now living in central New York.

The medical clinic in South Sudan set up by a former “Lost Boy” refugee now living in Syracuse has finally succumbed to new fighting in the country.

John Dau has had a lot of late nights keeping tabs on his medical facility since new fighting broke out in South Sudan in December. But last week, Dau said he was "stunned" to learn the fighting finally caught up to the village of Duk and his Lost Boys Clinic.

Renegade rebels looted the village and his seven-year-old clinic, Dau said. Fighters took fuel, food, supplies and furniture from the clinic, including the tires from the ambulance. They also burned down part of the compound.

Credit John Dau Foundation
The Duk Lost Boys Clinic in South Sudan.

Dau blames jealously for the ransacking.

"They have destroyed, they have looted the clinic that have helped them. But they have not destroyed the vision of bringing all the tribes together," he said Monday.

He sent a letter to the rebel leader pleading for help, saying his clinic once treated those from both sides of the conflict.

"The clinic has helped many people. And the idea that whatever propelled them to go in and destroy the clinic that has even helped them, is like you bite the hand that feeds you," he said.

In his letter to Dr. Riek Machar, the rebel leader, Dau wrote: "If the government is not showing a sense of maturity in your opinion in this conflict, why can’t you take that role of being an adult who cares about people’s lives and avoids despicable and pointless destruction?"

The medical team in Duk was evacuated when rebels arrived more than a week ago. The staff is just starting to return to fully assess the damage, Dau said. 

As long as he has the support of people here in America, Dau said, he will be able to rebuild, but it won’t be easy.