Following the attack on his village by Muslim militia, Angelo, who was approximately eight years old at the time, became separated from his parents and was taken captive by government enlisted, Baggara militia. He remained enslaved for three years, sleeping in a makeshift stall along with the animals that he tended by day. Eventually, he escaped fleeing to Khartoum, the capital city of Sudan. Miraculously, he located an uncle in Khartoum who agreed to take him in. Even more incredible, he was allowed to attend a local school, a privilege not generally granted to children from the South. However, Angelo later learned that his education came with a tremendous price.
Upon graduating from High School, he and other young men from the South were taken captive by the Sudanese government and forced to enlist in the Sudanese government Army. Their intended mission was that of returning to their homeland to kill their own people. Equally distressing to them as Christians, was the fact that they were forced to pray to Islam.
One day, while marching on the outskirts of town, the young Soldiers, approximately 250 in number, attempted their escape. At a predetermined signal, they scattered in all directions. Those running the farthest were shot by government soldiers; many were killed. Others like Angelo, who were not so fast on their feet, were grabbed, and at any signs of struggle, their throats were slit. Such was the case of Angelo, who received three slits to his throat, before being tossed by the roadside where he was left to die. He some how made it to a nearby tree where he remained until aid workers from the Red Cross found him.
Angelo, barely alive, was loaded onto a flat bed truck and taken to a squatter camp for Southerners in Khartoum. There, a Sudanese doctor crudely stitched his neck back in place and agreed to hide him for several weeks until he could be smuggled out of the country to Egypt. Once there, he eventually received refugee status to the US, but unfortunately his problems were not over.
Angelo developed a condition called Keloid (an over healing of the skin)on his neck scars, which resulted in thick rope like scars that wrapped around his neck. Even more troublesome, the site of the scars often became infected requiring frequent visits to the hospital. On one such visit in the summer of 2004, Angelo incurred a $17,000 hospital bill. Unemployed, uninsured and a full time college student, this became a bigger burden than Angelo could bear; that’s when the Alliance for the Lost Boys stepped in to help.
After contacting a local charity (who wishes to remain anonymous), his hospital bill was wiped clean. We also contacted a good friend and local Cosmetic Surgeon, by the name of Dr. R. Gregory Smith, who generously donated his time and services to remove the scars from Angelo’s neck.
Seven surgeries later, the scars are for the most part gone and with further treatment, dr. Smith is hopeful that they won’t return. When speaking about his surgery Angelo says, “for as long as I can remember, I have always been known as that guy with the scars on his neck. Maybe now, I can just be known as Angelo.”
Angelo is one of the Alliance for the Lost Boys of Sudan scholarship recipients and is currently doing rotations at a hospital in Chicago in order to complete his medical school training and become a doctor.
Alliance for the Lost Boys of Sudan is a registered 501 C-3 Foundation EIN #59-3808251