Human Rights Heroes

photo Nicholas Kristof/The New York Times

Valentino Deng

Nicholas Kristof brought the story Valentino Deng to life. Deng was 7 when he fled Marial Bai, in what is now South Sudan, after the village was attacked by a Sudanese militia.

He became one of the legendary Sudanese “Lost Boys” who drifted unaccompanied through endless perils — from land mines to crocodiles — to refugee camps first in Ethiopia and then in Kenya. Valentino saw friends devoured by lions and massacred by soldiers.

Making it to the US, he was the subject of a best selling book by Dave Eggers, “What is the What.”

Deng has now returned to Sudan, and with the royalties from the book, built a school built to educate 1000 boys and girls, and share the benefits he received.

“I was hiding in this bush from someone on horseback shooting, and I had nothing to fight back,” he tells Kristof. “So when I went back I was looking for a solution. And I think the solution is education.”

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