My name is Abraham, but I cannot tell you my age. For most of my life, I've had no country, no family, no home. I and others like me are known as the Lost Boys of Sudan.
Before we fled from our village in Sudan in northeast Africa, we lived with our families in round grass-roofed houses with hard- packed floors. We are from the Dinka tribe and are tall people with smooth dark skin. Before our exodus, we kept cows and grew crops. My older cousin, John, and other boys took turns driving the cattle to pasture. Sometimes I went with them.
I admired John's long sturdy legs that helped him to run fast. I hoped when I grew to be John's age my legs would be long like his. My legs were short, and I found it hard to keep up with John as he drove the cattle along to pasture.
While the crows grazed, the boys kept watch for fierce wild animals, like hyenas and lions. If given a chance, those beasts would drag away and kill a cow.
I clearly remember the day we became Lost Boys. While the herds ate grass, we heard gunfire and screams from the village and ran as fast as we could to see what was wrong. Even though I was far behind John, I could see flames and smoke coming from our houses. Soldiers were setting them on fire.
People shrieked, snatched their children's clothes and pieces of food and ran away from the burning village. "Run, run!" mothers and fathers yelled to us boys, thrusting quickly-wrapped bundles into our hands. "God be with you, son," my father said.
We did as told and ran. I couldn't keep up with the others so John put me on his back and carried me.
Soon a whole flock of children joined us, and we ran together. I clung to John's neck as he ran and ran. Perspiration soaked his back and made his skin slippery, but I hung on. John grew tired and put me down. I walked closely behind his strong long legs that had carried me away from danger. I saw that other children had grown tired too, and had slowed down.
All the boys walked and walked and walked across the hot savanna. The scorching sun made our damp bodies glisten. Our tongues and lips grew dry. Our feet, though toughened from going barefoot, began to ache. They bled from stepping on thorns and sharp stones.
No one knew where we were headed. I wondered if we were lost in the big dangerous country of Sudan I knew huge hippopotamuses and sharp-jawed crocodiles lurked in rivers. Deadly snakes slid through the grass or hid in trees.