Annie Jaffe: Encouraging
While attending a lecture at the Changing Hands Bookstore, what caught the attention of Annie Jaffe, (Red Mountain ’08) were the individual stories of Sudanese boys and their journey to the states. Along with constant threats on their lives, many of these boys walked across entire countries in Africa with little to no supplies. The lucky few that survived the elements of Africa depend upon a place to help them get situated in the United States and start anew. By assisting the boys with an education, a job, a place to live and an overall stable new environment, The Arizona Lost Boys Center offers itself as a safe haven for young Sudanese refugees attempting to create a better life for themselves in Arizona.
The Lost Boys of Sudan
Jaffe has been volunteering with the center for the past three years, listening to each Lost Boy’s individual story and recording it for the “Story Wall”—a display that includes a picture of each refugee and information about his or her accomplishments. When other teens use their spending money for clothes and music, Jaffe uses hers to pay for the frames for the center’s story wall.
“[The Lost Boys and Girls of Sudan] have just been through so much that I could never imagine going through in my life,” Jaffe said. “They’ve all witnessed so many friends and family members dying.”
In addition to the many opportunities presented to them by the Lost Boys Center, the boys are able to keep in touch with their African roots by phoning relatives still in Africa. After becoming United States citizens, with the assistance of the United Nations, the boys can choose to travel back to Africa. According to Jaffe, this return home is the most important part of their education. “Family, as well as respect for country, are two values that are central within the boys' lives.”
Volunteering for the Lost Boys Center is a meaningful and personal job that can be long term like Jaffe’s or just a one-time event. The Center welcomes all azTeens to visit the center and meet lost boys and girls from Sudan and hear their stories.
To see some of the center's work and to learn more about the Arizona Lost Boys and ways to get involved, go to www.azlostboyscenter.org.
This article originally appeared in the
Fall 2007 issue of azTeen Magazine.
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