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Clinic ransacked, but 'Lost Boy' still working to bring medical aid to his former home

Ryan Delaney

John Dau is a man that perseveres. And the staff of his medical foundation on the ground in South Sudan is no different. Since the Duk Lost Boys Clinic in rural South Sudan was destroyed in March by rebel fighters, the medical team has fanned out to keep working.

"So right now, we are operating in three places," said Dau. "We are reaching so many people that we had not reached before."

It’s been about a year since new fighting broke out in the African nation of South Sudan. And it was not long after that Dau, a refugee of the region’s long and violent history, saw his work to help his people be destroyed. Dau, forever optimistic, sees the positives in the situation. 

"Without destruction, without that ransacking, looting and everything at the clinic, we would have never been to other places. So this is so funny," he said.

South Sudan is the world’s newest country. It was carved out of the Sudan after decades of deadly civil wars between the north and south. Millions of young boys, Dau included, became wandering refugees. They were later named The Lost Boys.

Dau settled in Syracuse and started a foundation and opened the health clinic with the help of local donors and medical professionals. But last December, in-fighting between political leaders sparked a new war in South Sudan. Reaching peace has been an arduous process.

Dau says he’s trying to raise nearly $400,000 to rebuild the facility. That construction can start, he says, when peace returns to the country, but he doesn't know when that will be. He says the situation in South Sudan is a lot like the weather in his new home: Unpredictable. 

"I don’t know at this point. I will not just say, ‘Hey, it’s good today.’ But hopefully peace might back in South Sudan by March," he said.

Then they’ll work to build a second clinic in a different part of the country: the region home to the ethnic group that destroyed his first clinic. 

"That’s a part of (being a) humanitarian," explained Dau. "What is humanitarian anyway? It is the sense that you work, help other people, but if something happens to it, you do it again."

Credit Google Maps
The location of the Duk Lost Boys Clinic in South Sudan.