When Bob Simon first met the Lost Boys, they were a miracle. Forced to flee on foot -- some as young as 5 - they wandered across deserts and countries as they fled the civil war in Sudan that killed most of their families. Many died along the way from malnutrition, thirst, even from crocodiles at one point. That they survived to make it to a refugee camp in Kenya, where they met Simon, was a miracle. Getting resettled in the U.S. was another miracle none of them could ever have imagined on their years-long odyssey. And, for a few of them at least, the miracles continue, as Simon reports 12 years later for a 60 Minutes story to be broadcast Sunday, March 31 at 7:00 p.m. ET/PT.
The Lost Boys became part of the largest U.S. resettlement program ever undertaken by the State Department. Three thousand were settled across America in 2001, most becoming citizens. Abraham Yel Nhial was a preacher in the Kenyan refugee camp when Simon first interviewed him. He was resettled in Atlanta, where he eventually earned a degree in Biblical studies from Atlanta Christian College. "It's been a long journey, but God blessed me," he says. What came next could be called miraculous by someone who was once a preacher with little formal training in a refugee camp.
Since his resettlement and degree, Southern Sudan, from which he fled 25 years ago, has become an independent nation and the Anglican Church there needed him. Yel Nhial returned to his native country to be installed as the first Episcopal Bishop in his region. He now divides his time between the U.S. and Africa, where he has also married and fathered children, forming a family he would like to bring to the U.S.
Joseph Taban Rufino was settled in Kansas City. He considers himself a failure for never getting into a medical school in the U.S., a distant dream unfulfilled for a man who still reads medical texts. But a miracle occurred to him, too, that would ease his disappointment: The mother he assumed had died in the civil war he fled 25 years ago was in fact, still alive. In a moving Skype session set up by his American mentors, Rufino had a tearful reunion with his mother 8,000 miles away, who also thought he had died, telling him she had held his funeral. Watch an excerpt.
America hasn't been a paradise for Rufino. He has had his share of setbacks, including getting hit by a car, job layoffs, being stabbed, having his driver's license stolen and there was a fire in his kitchen. But it's all part of a new life here he says he still appreciates. After all, as a Lost Boy, he's endured worse. "You know, things, things happen," he tells Simon.