Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Gift Fair Highlights Third World; the Lost Boys Are Attendees

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Gift Fair Highlights Third World; the Lost Boys Are Attendees

Article excerpt

Byline: Susan D. Brandenburg

Shopping was secondary to sharing at a recent Alternative Gift Fair at Community Presbyterian Church in Atlantic Beach, which showcased local and worldwide organizations supporting developing economies in the Third World.

"This is a great way to raise awareness of the needs in our global as well as our local community," said Sharon Svihel, director of the Aid Sudan Foundation, at the Dec. 4 gift fair event.

Svihel stood with several of the "Lost Boys of Sudan" in front of a mock refugee tent created by Judy Pisano of the American Red Cross. At a nearby table, visitors could pick up information about the desperate need for medical attention and clean water in Sudan, view a video of a recent mission trip to their homeland by some of the Lost Boys, and sample a taste of their native bread "Injera" which is used as an eating utensil as well as an accompaniment to the meager meals at Sudanese refugee camps.

Called the Lost Boys because they are among the approximately 30,000 children orphaned in the decades-old Sudanese civil war, Jacob Ateny, Ambrose Alor, Michael Ngeng, Cornelius Duot, David Aguer and Johnson Malueth came to the United States through agencies such as World Relief and Lutheran Social Services. All are in their mid-20s, and many share the same Jan. 1 birthday.

"The Lost Boys have been running for their life since they were 4 or 5 years old," Svihel said. "Some are not sure of their exact age, so they've chosen a common birth date to mark the passage of time."

The Lost Boys soon found themselves surrounded by new friends.

"I want all of you to come out to a game this spring," University of North Florida Baseball Coach Bob "Shep" Shepherd, a member of Community Presbyterian, told the group of eager young men. "I'll give you some pointers on hitting the ball."

Enthusiastically gripping imaginary bats and taking swings in the air, the Lost Boys accepted the coach's invitation. Learning the ways of their adopted land, the Lost Boys have quickly assimilated into the First Coast community by partnering with churches like Community Presbyterian and resettlement organizations like the nationally-affiliated Aid Sudan Foundation-Jacksonville.

Helping local and worldwide organizations raise awareness and support was the order of the day at the Community Presbyterian's Alternative Gift Fair.

Booths touting mission projects such as Sacks of Groceries (to help relieve hunger in the U.S.A.), Rescue an Orphan (Chinese adoption), Rescue a Reef (Jamaica), Scholarships of Hope (Nepal), Global Emergency Disaster Assistance, Blankets of Hope (worldwide), Heifer Project International (donations of cows to developing countries), and BEAM (Beaches Emergency Assistance Ministry) offered visitors information and donation opportunities. …

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