Taken by geography alone, Sudan is the largest country in Africa. By culture and ethnicity, though, itís actually
When its colonial era ended in the late 20th Century, the departing British left power in the hands of the
Muslim northerners. The people of the rural south, Animist Christians, soon found themselves victims of a
never-ending civil war.
Their villages came under attack without warning, since these were folk without any modern communications.
Sometimes their attackers killed indiscriminately. At other times the enemy took the women and girls for the slave
market, killed the men, and asked the young boys one by one: "Are you a Christian?"
Any boy who refused to deny or renounce his faith was executed on the spot. Soon neighboring Ethiopia, and
later Kenya, teemed with refugees including many "unescorted minors" who had no family left, or no knowledge of
what might have happened to their parents and siblings.
Author Hecht came to know some of these "lost boys" grown into young manhood, after a relatively few lucky ones
were chosen for resettlement in the United States and brought to her home town of Jacksonville, Florida. Hesitant
at first because of vast cultural differences and a thoroughly confusing language barrier, Hecht nevertheless found
herself drawn into these young menís lives until she became "Mom" to many of them. She tells their individual
stories with a motherís understanding and tenderness, but provides historical background and other context in
crisp, factual prose. She also provides pages of photographs that add immeasurably to the bookís effectiveness.
Hecht writes without illusions, making no pretense of being a scholar or journalist. She simply tells the world
in general, and prosperous North American readers in particular, about people she has dedicated her life to helping.
Everything that the book lacks in polish, it makes up for with its heartfelt message. If this oneís closing chapter
doesnít make you cry, nothing written ever will!