Explore the experience of three Sudanese "Lost Boys" as they return to Sudan 20 years after fleeing their homes to escape Civil War.
Part 1: Background
Rebuilding Hope is a documentary film directed by Pulitzer Center journalist, Jen Marlowe. The film explores the experience of three Sudanese "Lost Boys" as they return to Sudan in 2007, 20 years after fleeing their homes to escape the Sudanese Civil War. Throughout the film, the young men assess their own hopes, dreams and fears as they return to their villages across Sudan, as well as those of the Southern Sudanese people nearly three years after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. They explore the connections between the conflict in South Sudan to the conflict in Darfur, probing the larger questions of identity and ethnicity in Sudan. The In-Depth Video Segments featured in this lesson plan are available, for free, online.
Through this lesson, students can explore the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the conflicts in Darfur and South Sudan, the role of women and girls in Southern Sudan, and the challenges facing education and health care in South Sudan – all issues which persist today and will become more pressing as the South secedes in July 2011.
You can also print a PDF of this lesson.
If students are interested in learning more about the history of Sudan, the recent referendum, and/or the story of the "Lost Boys," a variety of additional student and curricular resources have been outlined below. The resources are appropriate for a range of students and should be pre-viewed by the class teacher before use in the classroom.
- Lost Boy, Lost Girl: Escaping Civil War in Sudan, By John Bul Dau and Martha Arual Akech
- A Long Walk to Water, By Linda Sue Park
- Darfur Diaries: Stories of Survival, By Jen Marlowe
- "Darfur Diaries: Messages From Home," By Jen Marlowe
- "War Child," By Karim Chrobog
- "The Devil Came on Horseback," By Brian Steidle
- The Darfur Crisis, PBS: The Online NewsHour
- Doctors Without Borders: Sudan
- Human Rights Watch: Sudan: Failing Darfur
- BBC News: Darfur Conflict Q & A
Part 2: Student Preparation
Before beginning the in-depth video segments, which will provide students with information on the recent history of Sudan, have students use a map of Africa (can be printed out, online, using an atlas, etc.) to identify Sudan, its neighboring countries, the capitals of Juba and Khartoum, the potential North/South border, the region of Darfur, the Nile River, and other natural resources (oil) on a map of Africa. As students work with the map, have them consider some of these questions:
How do you think the geographic location of Sudan (Northern Sudan bordering Libya, Egypt, and other predominantly Arab countries and Southern Sudan bordering Uganda, Kenya, Central African Republic, and other more African nations) has affected its national identity? How would the influence of Christian missionaries working in the Southern part of the country further impact the national identity?
- To help students connect this question to their lives, it may be useful to discuss the development of the U.S. demography: such as white Europeans with roots in Western Europe and Scandinavia settling in the Northest and Midwest; the "Americanization" of the Southwest (Texas, New Mexico, Arizona) and the impact of regional identities on the United States.
Why do you think Sudan was difficult for the British to govern as a colonial power? (Large country, lots of terrain that is difficult to travel, minimal infrastructure put in place)
- What areas of the United States face similar problems? (Rural areas, Indian Reservations, Inner-city communities) Is there a similar lack of governmental presence in these areas?
As the country prepares to split into two independent nations in July, what areas will belong to the South? How about the north? What resources will be easily available to southerners? Northerners? What role do you think oil will play in the separation – will the resource help keep peace, or lead to more fighting?
- Help students consider the problems faced by a potentially divided US during the Civil War: The South controlled the agriculture (food resources) and the North controlled the industry (tools and war materials).
Part 3: In-Depth Video Segments with Discussion Questions and Additional Resources
The Comprehensive Peace Agreement: Signing for Peace vs. the Implementation
- Who colonized Sudan, when did they leave?
- Who was given control of the government when this group left? Why was this problematic?
- How long has Sudan endured Civil War?
- How do the people in the South feel the Arabic language is being used?
- What specific things are people fighting for?
- Who signed the CPA? Do you think that it's significant that the SPLM, one of many rebel groups based in the South were offered the chance to sign, but not other groups? How could this become a problem later?
- Why do some Southerners believe some Northerners did not want to sign the CPA?
- What role is oil playing in the North/South Sudan conflict? Do Southerners feel oil is being fairly distributed?
- What will happen to other marginalized groups in Sudan (Blue Nile, Nuba Mountains, Darfur) when the South secedes?
- How is the U.S.'s lack of involvement in Sudan after the CPA like a nurse giving a patient medicine but not staying to make sure it's taken?
- "Letter from Abyei," By Rebecca Hamilton, Foreign Affairs, January 21, 2011
- "Voices from Abyei, Sudan," By Larisa Epatko, PBS Newshour, April 9, 2010
Darfur and South Sudan: Connecting the Conflicts
- Many Sudanese believe the Southern Sudanese and Darfuri people are fighting the northern regime for the same reasons: equality, equal distribution of resources, and freedom. Practically speaking, what does each of these ideals mean? What will be required to ensure the ideals are actually enacted across Sudan?
- In what ways have Darfur and South Sudan been neglected by North Sudan?
- Is Darfur located in North or South Sudan?
- Who are the Janjaweed? How does the Northern government motivate them to fight Darfuris?
- Describe how the government manipulated religion to fuel fighting in Darfur and South Sudan.
- Who signed the CPA? Did the document really represent peace for all groups?
- Describe the Darfuri participation in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Given the different levels of regional and ethinic group support for the agreement, could it really be considered comprehensive?
- What is an internally displaced person? How would the Darfuri experience in refugee camps help them better understand the Southern Sudanese experience during the North/South Civil War?
- "Co-Existence in Northern Sudan," By Heba Aly, World Vision report, December 8, 2008
- "Darfur: Broken Promises," By Christopher Milner and Susan Schulman, Foreign Exchange, March 7, 2009
- "What About Darfur?" By Rebecca Hamilton, The New Republic, February 8, 2011
- Darfur Images, Part 1, By Jon Sawyer, Untold Stories, January 15, 2006
- Darfur Images, Part 2, By Jon Sawyer, Untold Stories, January 17, 2006
- Darfur Images, Part 3, By Jon Sawyer, Untold Stories, January 18, 2006
Women's Issues in South Sudan: Working Towards Equality
- Traditionally, what responsibilities fall to Sudanese women? What jobs are considered "women's work"? How do traditionally female jobs (fetching water, cooking meals, childcare) keep girls out of school?
- At the start of the video, the caption explains that Southern Sudanese women have suffered "double oppression," explain what this means.
- Explain the role of the Dinka dowry system in keeping girls out of school. How does the dowry system encourage the marriage of child brides?
- How do you think the government of South Sudan will be able to convince families that the long-term benefit of allowing their daughters to receive an education and seek jobs outside of the home is worth the immediate financial benefit of receiving cows in a dowry payment?
- What role does Gabriel believe local governments should play in keeping girls in school?
- "Sudan Dispatch: What about the Women?" By Rebecca Hamilton, The New Republic, January 25, 2011
- "A Child Bride in Sudan," By Rebecca Hamilton, The New Republic, October 4, 2010
Education and Health Care in South Sudan: Rebuilding Institutions of Peace
- In your opinion, what elements/institutions of daily life in your community represent peace? (School, police support, functional local governments, churches/religious centers, public transportation, etc.)
- Do these same systems exist in South Sudan? Why or why not?
- Describe how the Civil War in Sudan stopped education for southerners.
- As you watch the video make a list of challenges facing South Sudan's education and health care systems as the country looks to rebuild after Civil War:
- Describe some possible solutions to some of these challenges.
Challenges Facing Schools
Challenges Facing Health Care
"A People Neglected – Again," By Heba Aly, Untold Stories, September 12, 2009
"In South Sudan, Schools Still Function Under Trees," By Jen Marlowe, World Focus, January 25, 2010