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North Park Remembers Fallen 'Lost Boy', Killed by Car at Age 27

This morning, we bring you a short essay of the life of a young man who suffered unimaginable hardship, but whose faith and courage lead him to America. Anyoun Mou Anyoun, 27, one of the “Lost Boys o

North Park Remembers Fallen 'Lost Boy', Killed by Car at Age 27

This morning, we bring you a short essay of the life of a young man who suffered unimaginable hardship, but whose faith and courage lead him to America. Anyoun Mou Anyoun, 27, one of the “Lost Boys of Sudan,” died in a car crash on his way home from work on a Friday night, more than a week ago. Joanne Faryon tells us more about Anyoun and the life he made for himself in San Diego.

Anyoun's own words best describe his life. He begins his story as a seven-year-old boy in Sudan. He had watched his father shot and killed.

His cousin Joseph Amol reads from an essay Anyoun wrote as part of his college application:

“My mother's last words to me were: ‘Run for your life and don't come back.’ I ran away and crept back later looking for my mother and found her lying on the floor. She had been slayed like a goat. I wanted to bury her body, but instead covered her body with my t-shirt. I then decided to obey her last words. I ran for my life and never went back.”

Anyoun was one of thousands of young boys orphaned during the Second Sudanese Civil War. The boys had survived while their families were killed because many had been tending herds or managed to runaway.

In 2001, 3,800 orphaned boys made their way to the United States as refugees. Anyoun was among the 100 or so to settle in San Diego.

He documents the three month trek from his village to Ethiopia in his essay. He walked barefoot, had little to eat but leaves and water. After four years as refugees, the boys again had to flee when the government changed hands. At gunpoint they were forced to cross a river.

Anyoun writes he thought he would die that day because he did not know how to swim:

“I remained on the other side of the river bank, until God performed a miracle. A boy I did not know asked if I wanted him to carry me above water to the other side. Thousands of boys died that day, but Almighty God wanted me to survive.”

At his memorial service last week, at a church in North Park, people sat shoulder to shoulder, every pew full, more standing in the back, and even more spilled out onto the sidewalk.

They were the people he worked with from the Barona Casino. Anyoun worked part time in housekeeping while going to school. They were his American friends who called him Sammy. They were neighbors and of course, they were the many other lost boys of Sudan. They were his cousins, six other lost boys.

Anyoun was deeply religious. He had just been accepted to Azusa Pacific University to study theology. And he was deeply loyal to his family. Every month, he quietly sent money to his sister still in Africa. He was able to pay her rent and feed her children. He had hoped to return to Sudan, to help rebuild his country.

Later, at the cemetery, a friend tells how the mourners stayed to bury Anyoun, shovel by shovel. She says so many of the lost boys had watched their friends die in the dessert, shot or killed by animals. They couldn't stop to bury them, but they could bury Anyoun.

Anyoun ends his essay:

“They called us the lost boys because we were lost from our parents, friends, relatives and homes. But we were never, never lost from God Almighty.”

On this day in San Diego, in a North Park church, it was clear Anyoun had been found by hundreds of friends who knew him and had come to say good-bye.

For KPBS, I’m Joanne Faryon.