Today’s guest contributor, Lopez Lomong, is running the men’s 5,000 metre race for Team USA at London 2012 on August 8th.
But behind his remarkable accomplishment is a turbulent — and inspiring — story of danger, poverty and ultimate redemption.
Now, this South Sudan native is partnering with World Vision to bring help and hope to children and families in his home country who continue to struggle one year after the celebration of its independence.
This blog has been adapted from Lopez Lomong’s book Running For My Life and was originally published here.
Read Lopez’s story and let us know your thoughts!
My dream of running for Team USA became a reality as I crossed the finish line of the men’s 5,000-metre Olympic trial. I am honoured to run alongside American record-holders, in what will be my second Olympic team.
It feels like I am a million miles away from where I might have been.
At the age of six, I was kidnapped with other children from my Sudanese village church to serve as a child soldier. My subsequent escape and journey to Kenya ushered in a decade as an undocumented orphan in a Kenyan refugee camp.
I lived one day at a time, constantly hungry. I never imagined that one day I would stand with national champions, wearing a Team USA jersey.
Now, I have a loving American family. I have reconnected with and currently support my African family and I’m a college graduate. Also, I am blessed to have such a supportive team of friends and sponsors.
Given the current economic and political situation faced by my native South Sudan and my tribe, the Buya people, many have given this new country little chance of survival. We’ve just celebrated the one-year anniversary of South Sudan’s independence, but we do so buffeted by the blows of inter-tribal conflict, unemployment, food insecurity, aerial bombardment and development issues not meant for the weak of heart.
Despite these challenges, South Sudan is a nation full of strong and good people — and I have not given up on a bright future for the young country.
For that reason, I have created the “4 South Sudan” initiative.
Working with World Vision, the Lopez Lomong Foundation is raising resources to bolster great development work being done in South Sudan around the areas of health, food security, water, and education.
For the full version of this blog, click here.