Inspiration from one of the Lost Boys of Sudan

Community Engagement
Mokhtar Maki Mogtaba is one of the Lost Boys of Sudan. He suffered persecution and fled his homeland fearing for his life, but he says “I’m one of the lucky ones, because so many others are still suffering in Sudan.”

Still a young man, Mogtaba has experienced more cruelty and sorrow in the past six years than most people have in a lifetime.

He was a student at the University of Khartoum when the government of Sudan was overthrown and the country became engulfed in a civil war – Muslim Arabs in the north were fighting Christian, black Africans in the south. One night soldiers came and took Mogtaba’s father, part of the old government, away. He was thrown in prison and tortured. Knowing they’d be back, Mogtaba escaped alone in the middle of the night with nothing but the clothes he was wearing.

He hid during the day to avoid the soldiers and traveled at night on foot and stowed away on trains when he could.

Finally he reached Egypt where he found safety in a crowded refugee camp. He had survived, but he had lost everything – family, friends, home, and country. The only thing he had left was his dream that one day he and his family would be reunited and live in freedom in the United States and he was determined to make that dream a reality.

Nearly two years later, on February 1, 2001, Mogtaba arrived in the United States.

He was alone and had nothing, but he was thankful for the chance to build a new life in freedom. The LSF Refugee Resettlement Specialists found him a furnished apartment, enrolled him in English classes, and helped him find a job. Mogtaba worked hard, saved his money, studied English at night, and soon started classes at Hillsborough Community College. He also started a search to find his family.

When he finally learned his family was living in the refugee camp in Cairo, he began sending money to them every month. He also asked LSF to help him bring them to the U.S. In March of 2005, Amalia Rivera, LSF Resettlement Specialist, was with Mogtaba at the airport when his father and three sisters stepped off the plane. Amalia continues to work with the family in the resettlement process and they are now eagerly awaiting the day when their mother and other siblings arrive.

Mogtaba graduated from Hillsborough Community College and is now a student at the University of South Florida where he is studying to become a dentist. He still works full-time while attending classes. He is truly a shining example of what determination and hard work can accomplish.