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The Lost Boys of Sudan thrive in Jacksonville

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Updated: 12/01/2013 12:13 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- They were young boys separated from their families and left to fend for themselves. In all, 20,000 were left orphaned during the second Sudanese civil war.

Many came to America and a group landed right here in Jacksonville. They credit one man's generosity with changing their lives.

They're known as the Lost Boys. And inside The Supply Source, they've learned what the American dream really means.

It was more than a decade ago. The group of men were then only boys. The Lost Boys of Sudan. They fled their country, leaving everything they knew behind.

"When I came here ten years ago, I came with empty hands," David Dau said of his fresh start.

"Our country had been devastated by the war," said Kuek Dier.

"I was kind of thinking it seems like I'm not going to hear the sound of a gun anymore like I used to," added Anyang Agot.

They arrived in Jacksonville wide eyed and a little scared. But the guys were eager to find a way to become productive American citizens. That's when they met Rob Stursberg.

"He just give us a job," said Ajang Koi. "It's not easy to hire people who don't speak English."

They started with simple tasks. Sweeping the warehouse floors. Today, they're running the heavy machinery.

"It was a life saver. A life saver. If you come and work anywhere where there is no light and somebody shows you the light, that's how I feel," said Dier.

Each of them credits Stursberg with taking a chance on them 10 years ago.

"I gave them an opportunity. That's what I gave them. They earned it," said Stursberg.

He said he is proud to see how far the men have come.

"Thank a lot of American people for being there for us opening their hearts and arms and just being nearby," Agot said.

"We appreciate and we just feel ourselves that we are lucky people," said Koi.

Several of them have wives and families still overseas. They are working to bring them to America too.

All of the Jacksonville lost boys are now U.S. citizens and look forward to celebrating Thanksgiving together in the country they're proud to call home.

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