In 1983, a Civil War began in Sudan which dismantled the country and left the citizens of the nation in shambles. As the war progressed, it transformed into a full-scale genocide as soldiers raided villages and slaughtered men, raped and sold women into the sex trade, burned homes and killed off livestock.
Many of the young boys from these villages were forced to flee their homes and would eventually meet up with others to roam the deserts of Sudan.
The “Lost Boys,” ranging from ages four to 15, numbered over 20,000, but soon dwindled to 10,000 after many were killed by soldiers or from trekking the harsh environment of the desert.
After years of fearful suffering and wandering, the U.N. stepped in to provide aid and set up refugee camps in Kenya. Charity organizations also arranged to have roughly 3,600 of the “Lost Boys” brought to the U.S. Several of the boys have settled around Nashville.
Local Nashville artist Jack Spencer and several volunteers were inspired to create artwork, and eventually set up The Lost Boys Foundation, after the death of Pel Gai, one of the “Lost Boys” living in Nashville who was murdered at a nightclub in Nashville.
“Pel Gai … was a very bright, gentle and industrious kid. The irony of his death confounds me. [The Lost Boys] have seen such terror, grief, loss, sadness and horror only to come to our land of opportunity, and then senselessly murdered,” Spencer said.
Spencer said the boys currently living in Nashville have no support system. The goal of The Lost Boys Foundation is “the reunification and living enhancement of the ‘Lost Boys’ of Nashville by working with the ‘Lost Boys’ and their leadership to create and fund a community complex.”
Spencer’s artwork is on display in the Wilbur N. Daniel African American Cultural Center and is for sale. The proceeds from the art sale will help fund Spencer’s foundation. For more information about The Lost Boys Foundation of Nashville visit www.thelostboysfoundation.org. TAS