GROWING WIDE AWAKE
GOD GREW TIRED OF US:
THE STORY OF THE LOST BOYS OF SUDAN
(3 and 1/2 out of 4 stars)
DIRECTED BY CHRISTOPHER DILLON QUINN,
86 MINUTES, RATED PG
The long walk from the civil war in the Sudan continued to America for some of the young men fortunate enough to escape the violence. God Grew Tired of Us is the story of how several young men, dubbed “the lost boys,” made that journey. It is a story worth telling over and over.
Somewhat in the vein of 49 Up and the films of that series, God Grew Tired of Us intimately profiles a few of the lost boys as they run from the on-going terror that devoured their homeland in Africa. These boys grew quickly into men. And when we meet them in Africa, they’ve already walked out of the Sudan and reside in UN refugee camps.
Soon, a few of them become leaders helping to protect the weakest of their fold. Separated from their families, these boys—ages three to thirteen—were forced to make their own way in a harsh world where it did not seem that they were welcomed. But then several of them were permitted to immigrate to various cities in America where they could pursue educational or other goals. It wasn’t going to be easy for them, especially in the fantastical US. These boys wouldn’t be given anything; they’d have to work for it.
Narrated by Nicole Kidman, God Grew Tried of Us is moving and informative. If you didn’t know it, the Sudanese civil wars were some of the bloodiest in history. Something close to two million people died, and thousands fled (some four million people have been reportedly displaced). Those who fled found that anywhere they went engendered tough goings. The most victimized were the children who weren’t capable of defending or protecting themselves from the effects of the violence or displacement.
One of the lost boys prominently featured, John Dau, had to quit college in order to take on another job to send money home to his family…even though he has no real confirmation that the money is getting to them in the first place. He, as with all the lost boys, isn’t sure where his family is most of the time and whether they are safe. It is impossible for these young men to truly move on with their lives when there’s a chance that their families are alive and in need of assistance.
In conjunction with all the misery and longing comes a little humor and charm. The portrait painted by co-directors Christopher Dillon Quinn and Tommy Walker is a very human one. When the boys arrive in America, they make all kinds of discoveries we otherwise take for granted. For example, one of the boys remarks that he may have difficulty learning how to use electricity. After all, he’s never used it before, and his idea of it is so abstract that it has to be confounding. When the boys are shown their apartment in America, they are introduced to the bathroom and marvel at its unprecedented wonders. Just wait until they see television… And you can’t begin to appreciate the sense of awe that overtakes them when they pass through the doors of a grocery store!
God Grew Tired of Us is an unfinished story because the lost boys, now men, are still maturing here and in Africa. Their families are scattered and needy, and the pain is only temporarily succored. The struggle is inspiring, especially when you learn that Dau and others have taken advantage of the opportunities afforded them and have helped their families escape. But the struggle continues…