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President and Mrs. Bush Surprise Lost Boys and Girls of South Sudan

February 16, 2016 2 minute Read by Ashley McConkey, Christopher Walsh
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“We can learn lessons from people who come from difficult circumstances,” President Bush said.

Last week, the Bush Center welcomed approximately 70 Lost Boys and Girls to tour the Presidential Library and Museum.  Many Lost Boys and Girls of South Sudan resettled in the U.S. upon being displaced or orphaned during the country’s civil war.  After this morning’s tour, they received a surprise visit from President and Mrs. Bush, who offered their support. “Laura and I appreciate your courage and perseverance,” President Bush told the group.  “We can learn lessons from people who come from difficult circumstances.”

President Bush also recognized South Sudan’s fragility as a nation, which became an independent state in 2011, and encouraged the Lost Boys and Girls to play a positive role in their country’s development.  “I’m concerned about the struggles in South Sudan," President Bush continued.  "I’m not surprised that with independence comes difficulty. As you tell your stories and build lives for yourselves here in the U.S., remember you have influence and can promote peace and reconciliation in your homeland.”

He concluded his remarks noting that the U.S. should stay engaged with South Sudan as they build a path to democracy. 

In the late 1980s, years of civil war drove some 20,000 young boys and girls from their villages in South Sudan; many were only six or seven years old. They walked 1,000 miles across hostile terrain to Ethiopia hoping to escape the carnage. Half the children lost their lives before the survivors ultimately found sanctuary in Kenyan refugee camps. They became known as the Lost Boys and Girls.  In 2001, thousands came to the United States seeking new lives free from the chaos in South Sudan; more than 100 resettled in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Dallas Morning News video: 

To learn more about the visit, be sure to read the Dallas Morning News’ coverage of the event.


Author

Ashley McConkey
Ashley McConkey

Ashley McConkey manages communications for the George W. Bush Presidential Center and is responsible for message development on behalf of the Economic Growth, Human Freedom and Military Service initiatives.

Before joining the Bush Center, McConkey worked in the communications and public policy arena in Austin, Texas for both non-profit and corporate entities.  She also served as a Budget and Policy Adviser to Texas House Speaker Joe Straus. 

McConkey grew up in Greenville, Texas and moved to Austin to study Political Science at St. Edward’s University.  She and her husband reside in Dallas.

Full Bio
Christopher Walsh
Christopher Walsh

Christopher Walsh serves as a Manager for the Human Freedom Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute.  In this role, Christopher manages communications, evaluation, and public policy research projects that advance freedom and democracy in the world. He also develops and implements efforts to make the Bush Institute a welcoming place for today’s generation of dissidents and democracy advocates, overseeing visits for training, inspiration, and insight. 

Prior to joining the Bush Institute, Christopher worked with the International Republican Institute in Washington, D.C. As IRI’s program officer for Central and Eastern Europe, he coordinated political party building and civic advocacy programs in the Balkans and Turkey.

A native of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Christopher is a graduate of American University with a B.A. in International Studies.  He currently lives in Dallas with his wife and three young children.

Full Bio

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