|Friendship leads to national organization for Sudan
July 12, 2006
|A UMNS photo by Jay Mallin
Angelo Maker and Susie Albert Miller attend the “Lost Boys: Found!” reunion.
By Kathy L. Gilbert*
FAIRFAX, Va. (UMNS) ? Spotting Susie Albert Miller and Angelo Maker
in a room, you probably won?t put them together as best friends.
Miller is a petite brunette businesswoman full of self-confidence.
Maker is a tall, lanky African man who struggles to speak
English?partially because he is from Sudan and partially because he is
missing several teeth. His parents pulled out his teeth when he was a
child to keep him from being sold into slavery.
Together, the two make a force to be reckoned with.
Both say meeting the other was a life-changing experience. Miller is a
therapist and attends Crossroads United Methodist Church, Ashburn, Va.
She was introduced to Maker and four other ?lost boys of Sudan? at a
U.S. State Department meeting on Capitol Hill that she was asked to
attend by Cathy Norman, another member of Crossroads.
?I walked into the office and here were these five dignified young
men,? she recalls. The men stood up, introduced themselves, and told
horrific stories about their childhoods.
That meeting spurred the formation of Voices for Sudan, a national
nonprofit organization whose goal is to establish an education fund for
the lost boys and girls of Sudan who want to return to their country to
work for peace and justice.
?Lost Boys: Found!,? a national gathering sponsored by Crossroads
United Methodist Church and the United Methodist Board of Church and
Society, was the first step to address the group?s vision. The July 7-8
gathering provided networking and publicity for the organization.
Maker says the connection between him and Miller comes from God.
Miller says she was moved to become involved with the atrocities in Sudan after she saw the movie ?Hotel Rwanda.?
?I saw the movie last April and I was not so proud to be an
American,? she says. ?I realized the genocide happened when I was 30
years old and I didn?t know about it.?
The end of the movie talks about what is happening in Darfur. More
than 400,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million have been forced
out of their homes since the government-sponsored genocide began in
Before, Sudan was just a concept, a movie and actors, Miller says. ?When I met Angelo, it became a story and a face.?
Maker says Miller and Norman encouraged him to tell his story and
that has made a tremendous change in his life. ?My story is not easy to
tell, but it was hurting me not to tell it.?
Maker?s village was attacked when he was seven years old. He
remembers explosions and chaos and watching his mother being shot. He
ran to her side and stayed with her as she bled to death. During those
last hours of her life, she told him to respect people and trust God.
?Everything I went through no human can make it and go through it,?
he recalls. ?At seven years old, I walked more than 1,000 miles. I
believe God made it possible.?
The national conference is just one step for Maker as he works to get
an education and go back to his homeland. ?I am hoping many people will
be encouraged and aware and be able to be involved,? he says. ?We need
prayers. We need people to go and see my country.
?Change in Sudan, in Africa and in the world ? all from a small group
of people in one local church who acted and joined in friendship to
listen to one another and hear what working together could accomplish,?
For more information on Voices of Sudan, visit the group?s Website at www.voicesofsudan.org.
*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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