Arkansas author to visit Saline County Library

By The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Published January 8, 2009 at 3:53 a.m.
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BENTON - Author Barbara Youree is scheduled to discuss and sign Courageous Journey: Walking the Lost Boys' Path from the Sudan to America at 5 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 15, at the Bob Herzfeld Memorial Library. The event is open to the public.

Youree, a former English and French teacher and contributing editor of Potpourri: A Magazine of the Literary Arts, has authored four novels, six children's books and several published magazine articles and now resides in Rogers. Her latest work is a collaborative effort between herself and the two young men the story is about - Ayuel Leek Deng and Beny Ngor Chol.

In 2001 Youree responded to a call for mentors to help some of the newly arr ived young people from Sudan - called the "Lost Boys" - adjust to American ways. About 60 of the refugees were assigned to Kansas City, where she lived at the time.

"It was fun to watch them discover drinking fountains, ice cream, escalators, automatic doors in grocery stores and all the things we take for granted," Youree said. "Since they had spent the past 14 years in desolate refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya, they experienced the modern world like wide-eyed children."

The mentorship was for a short three months. "But," said Youree, "seven years later we had a book. They wanted me to write their story so others would know what happened inSudan's civil war."

Courageous Journey: Walking the Lost Boys' Path from the Sudan to America was published in September 2008 by New Horizon Press. In the National Best Books 2008 Awards, it has been named a finalist in the Political/Social category. The publisher describes it as a true story that "chronicles the voyage to freedom of Ayuel Leek Deng and Beny Ngor Chol, who survived famine, the brutal deaths of family members and homelessness during the war in Sudan, which raged on for more than a decade."

Youree noted it is more than a story of Deng and Chol overcoming obstacles, however.

"It ref lects the universal experiences of millions of innocents around the world who suffer the consequences of evil governments. And it shows the triumph of determination and faith over such adversity."

Library Director Julie Hart said she hopes to see a large crowd at the event.

"The same tragedy is occurring right now in several parts of the world - even in the same country - and whether we like it or not, their problems do affect our nation, state, and community. I invite all concerned citizens to come show their support in the effort to end such violence," Hart said.

Copies of the work by Deng, Chol and Youree will be available for purchase at the event and Youree will be on hand to answer questions and sign copies. All Youree's proceeds from the book go to the Lost BoysFace Foundation, a nonprofit organization to help Sudanese with health and education.

For more information regarding Youree's visit to the Bob Herzfeld Memorial Librar y, call (501) 778 - 4766. For general information about the Saline County Library, call (501) 778-4766 or (501) 847-2166 or visit www.saline.lib. ar.us.

None The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette can be reached at news@arkansasonline.com.