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A ‘lost boy’ of Sudan returns to rebuild his homeland

On Sunday, the people of Southern Sudan will begin voting on whether to remain part of a unified Sudan or become an independent state. Sudan, Africa’s largest nation, is an oil-rich country run by Islamist Arabs. What happens there matters to all of us for strategic and humanitarian reasons. Here’s what you need to know:

For generations, southern Sudan has been dominated by the Islamist-run government in Khartoum, which has sought to impose Sharia law on the south’s Christians and animists.

Religion is one of the main causes of two bloody civil wars that have killed two million southern Sudanese. Another point of contention: control of Sudan’s oil reserves that lie mostly in the south and along the border with the north. If, as expected, the south votes to secede, many fear another wave of violence, despite assurances from Sudan’s president, Omar al Bashir, that he will accept the results of the election: “If the south secedes, we will welcome it.”

But can Bashir be trusted? He has been indicted as a war criminal for his brutal military campaign against rebels and civilians in Darfur. That fighting, which began in 2003, has left 300,000 dead. Need to Know sent producer George Lerner to southern Sudan to report on one former refugee’s efforts to help rebuild his homeland in anticipation of a vote for independence.

For more information on Salva Dut and his organization, go to Water for Sudan.



  • MarkusMaleek

    My gut is telling me that the North will let the South secede but will shortly thereafter move across the new border to take a few oil wells.

  • MarkusMaleek

    Great story, by the way. I was really glad to have my daughter watching. I think she may have finally gotten an inkling of how lucky we are to have been born where and when we were born here in the U.S.A.

    It was also very inspirational to see someone who started out with so little do something with his life that helps so many others.

  • kati

    I just finished watching the show on tv, and i saw how some schools were able to raise some money and were able to help out with getting the clean water for the people and i was wondering how could my school help? where do i go in order to get a bit more information to spread out and get help with starting a club for it and help raise some money?

  • Senior Producer

    Hi Kati,
    The name of Salva Dut’s organization is Water for Sudan. Check out the website for more information:

    Thanks for watching!
    Brenda Breslauer – Senior Producer

  • Steve Hall

    Hi Kati,
    I work for a non-profit organization called H2O for Life. We match schools in the US with schools in developing nations to raise funds for these types of water projects. One of the wells in the story was funded by one of our participating schools, Stillwater Junior High in MN. We have been working with Water for sudan for a few years and there are many more schools in Sudan that still need water. Check out our website, Or email me at

  • Sandrayameogo


    The website was not working for me. I clicked on the link, and everything I found on Google for Water for Sudan the site could not be found. Am I doing something wrong? Please inform. Thank you.

  • Sweinberg1

    Beautiful work. Thank you, George, for telling this story here.