Autobiography, Biography

In 1987, Nathaniel Nyok, tormented by thoughts of missing parents and siblings, fled a bloody scene and a burning village in Sudan. Wishing to live at all cost and driven by a confrontational heart-pounding fear, he journeyed through the wild to seek sanctuary in Ethiopia. At eight, he had just capitulated to an orphan-like life with a new title—A Lost Boy of Sudan—living in a refugee camp for fourteen years without a family and a future.

The refugee camp became a cage that was too confining and he languished with a sense of loss. As he battled the loss of home and family, he chose education over revenge as the road to freedom—a road that eventually brought him to America—land of freedom and rules—welcomes and prejudices.

In a turning point of surreptitious blessing, grilled by United States immigration lawyers and medical experts in a-two-year vetting process of interviews and medical evaluations, he was offered an approval letter—becoming one of a few Lost Boys admitted to the United States. In 2001, he resettled in Georgia in a community that welcomes him—a stranger with both joy and contempt.  This story portrays the transition into the array of American culture from the stylishness and glam of Hollywood to battling the prejudices of his new community as a time of both confusion and hope.

As he shares this powerful story to both educate and help others, he wishes to use his experience to bring education to South Sudan in recognition that education bridges distance between tribes, countries and continents.

Nathaniel Nyok is the founder and president of the Ambassadors for Change: The Nathaniel Chol Nyok Foundation—a not-for-profit organization dedicated to building a high school in South Sudan. Mr. Nyok, who is a diplomat, a humanitarian and a motivational speaker, holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from Kennesaw State University in Atlanta, Georgia and a Master’s degree in Diplomacy and International Relations from Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey. In 1987, at eight years old, the Sudan civil war separated Mr. Nyok and family. Mr. Nyok, along with a group of young boys, fled Sudan and trekked barefoot for thousands of miles to seek refuge in Ethiopia. During a journey that took about two months, Mr. Nyok encountered hunger, thirst, wild animals and crocodile-infested rivers. Becoming one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, Mr. Nyok registered as a refugee—living in two refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya for almost fifteen years before migrating to the United States in 2001. A former legislative intern at the United States Senate with the Office of Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and a former humanitarian and advocacy intern at Save the Children, Mr. Nyok is an activist on the Sudans, refugee rights, human rights and Africa in Washington, D.C.