Friday, November 30, 2007

Born and Raised in War in Sudan

Next Talk at the West Vancouver Museum
Wednesday December 5, 2007 from 7pm
Guest Speaker: Charles O. Lomudak

Charles O. Lomudak is a volunteer for UNICEF Canada and works as a settlement worker for Vancouver School Board. He will talk about his personal account of growing up in Sudan during the ongoing civil war.
Please read the article below from The Vancouver Sun, May 15, 2007

Paula Lomudak (centre) is reunited in Surrey with sons Charles (rear right) and Joseph (far right) and cousins Joseph, Mary, Johnson and Josephine.
Photograph by : Peter Battistoni, Vancouver Sun

Mother's Day sees Sudanese family reunited after 14 years
Son who fled when he was 12 worked to bring mother to B.C. from refugee camp

Doug Ward
Vancouver Sun
Tuesday, May 15, 2007

CREDIT: Peter Battistoni, Vancouver Sun

A 62-year-old woman from Sudan walked off an airplane at Vancouver International Airport recently and embraced a son she had not lived with since a prolonged civil war sent him into exile two decades ago.
She had spent the last 14 years in refugee camps and had nearly given up hope that her family would ever be together again.
The son, Charles Lomudak, now 35, greeted his mother with a banner that read: "Welcome to Canada Mom. We Love You."
After 21 years, the family was finally reunited.
His mother, Paula Lomudak, has been granted permanent residency in Canada and is living with her son, who sponsored her, in Surrey. They celebrated Mother's Day with more joy than most.
"Back home we don't celebrate Mother's Day. But of all Canadians, I am getting perhaps the best Mother's Day," said Charles Lomudak.
The Lomudak family is a victim of the long civil war that began in southern Sudan in 1983 as the Islamic government in the country's north battled rebels in the mostly non-Muslim south.
War and famine led to the displacement of more than four million people. An estimated two million people died in over two decades of fighting.
Among the members of this Sudanese diaspora was Charles Lomudak who fled his family's small village in southern Sudan in 1986.
Lomudak was a 12-year-old student at the time and feared that he would be abducted by the rebels and forced to be a boy-soldier.
"I had a close friend who was taken away to become a rebel soldier. There are thousands of these boys now in North America. They are called the Lost Boys of Sudan."
Lomudak and his brother hid in the bush during the day and at night would sneak back into town for food.
They kept moving south, away from the fighting. "I saw people shot, I saw people lying on the ground dead. But we just kept running."
Eventually, they arrived in a town near the Ugandan border where an uncle lived. He remained there for three years, until 1989 when the civil war spread further south, forcing Lomudak to leave again -- this time to refugee camps in Uganda.
He was nearly killed in the camps when a group of soldiers tied him up and beat him repeatedly with a dry stick. "I thought I was going to die. I had a swollen back and arms. I lost my voice. They beat me to the point where I couldn't cry anymore."
Finally, Lomudak and a group of other refugees were taken to the airport and flown back to Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, where they were placed in camps for internally displaced people. He resisted orders to return to the south of the country and remained in Khartoum to complete his high school education.
Lomudak decided to go to Ethiopia and attend a college run by the Seventh Day Adventist Church, to which he belonged.
He remained at the school in Ethiopia for five years and during all that time he had no contact with his mother or the rest of his family.
Lomudak put in a request for information about his family with the Red Cross and about four months later learned that they were in refugee camps in Uganda.
After completing college in Ethiopia, Lomudak's future was again on hold. He applied for refugee status in Canada in 1995 and a year later arrived in Vancouver. He quickly found work at a warehouse in Annacis Island and began sending money back to his family in Uganda.
Later he attended Langara College, studied social work and began working in foster homes. Eventually, he found full-time work with the Vancouver school board as a special education assistant and now works at Lord Beaconsfield elementary in East Vancouver.

© The Vancouver Sun 2007

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Behind the Wire Guest Speakers Series

Behind the Wire Programs
Get Informed!

A number of special Behind the Wire public programs are scheduled in conjunction with the exhibition. Distinguished scholars, humanitarians, survivors of war and experts in their fields offer a series of talks on issues related to international conflicts and consequences of war. Stay tuned for more talks currently being scheduled for January and February 2008.

November 7, 2007, 7-9pm
Behind the Wire Exhibit Opening and Reception
Special Guest: Katy Hedalen performs We’ll Meet Again

We’ll Meet Again, composed by Ross Parker and lyrics by Hughie Charles was popularized by British singer Vera Lynn during World War II. The song resonated with soldiers who were going off to war leaving their loved ones behind. West Vancouver soprano singer Katy Hedalen sings We’ll Meet Again as a special tribute to those who served and dedicated their lives.

November 14, 7-8:30pm
Guest speaker: Major Harjit Sajjan, Reservist, British Columbia Regiment, Reconnaissance Squadron
Topic: The Canadian Forces in Afghanistan Protecting Canadians-Rebuilding Afghanistan

Major Harjit Saijan, a Reservist with the British Columbia Regiment where he is Officer Commanding, Reconnaissance Squadron, served in Afghanistan in 2006 under Brigadier General David Fraser, Commander of the Multi-National Brigade. Major Sajjan shares his personal experiences and discusses the Canadian Forces contribution in Afghanistan.

November 21, 7-8:30pm
Guest speaker: Lauryn Oates, Vice-President, Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan
Topic: Women and War in Afghanistan

Lauryn Oates is a professional human rights advocate and international development practitioner, with expertise in gender and women’s human rights. Since 1996, Oates has worked as an activist for women's rights in Afghanistan as founder of the Vancouver and Montreal Chapters of the non-profit solidarity network, Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan. She managed the CIDA-funded Women's Rights in Afghanistan Fund and other projects supporting women's movements and peace building in the Middle East and Central Asia from 2002-2006 at the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development. Her talk focuses on how the ongoing war in Afghanistan has affected the lives of Afghan women.

November 27, 7pm at the West Vancouver Memorial Library (1950 Marine Drive, West Vancouver)
Special guest: David Paperny, President, Paperny Films
Documentary Screening of Forced March to Freedom, Paperny Films, 2001

David Paperny’s documentary film Forced March to Freedom, is based on a book of the same name written and illustrated by Robert Buckham. The film illustrates the experiences of Canadian air personnel imprisoned in German PoW camps during World War II.

At the end of the Second World War, ten thousand prisoners of war anticipated liberation courtesy the advancing Russian Red Army. The retreating Germans forced the prisoners to march out of Stalag Luft III in the dead of winter toward the center of a collapsing Third Reich in order to keep the PoW’s as hostages. Forced March to Freedom tells the story of this amazing test of endurance through the eyes of Robert Buckham, a bomber pilot and artist who produced countless sketches and watercolours of prison camp life, as well as one of the only chronicles of the forced march itself. Interviews with Buckham and other PoW's accentuate the sketches of camp life and the march as well as the few actual photographs of the march known to exist. The film producer David Paperny gives you the inside account of making the documentary film.

November 28, 7-8:30pm
Guest speaker: Brian Seward, MMM.CD, Rtd., 6 Field Engineer Squadron
Topic: Close to Home: Peace Keeping Missions Abroad

Brian L. Seward came to Canada after serving in the Royal Navy and Merchant Navy from 1944 to 1955. He joined the 6th Field Engineers Squadron in North Vancouver in 1962 as a Sapper and served 28 years in all ranks up to Sergeant-Major and Captain. Served in NATO (Germany) in 1972, he attended numerous joint exercises with the US 407th Engineers, building bridges, repairing roads and removing explosives. Seward was awarded the Order of Military Merit for his dedicated and exceptional service by Governor General Edward Schreyer in Ottawa 1980.

December 5, 7-8:30pm
Guest speaker: Charles O. Lomudak, Settlement Worker, Vancouver School Board; Volunteer, UNICEF Canada
Topic: Born and Raised in War in Sudan

Since 1983, the ongoing civil war in Sudan caused the death of nearly two million people-one in five of the southern Sudanese population. When the war broke out, Charles Lomudak was only 10 years old. As the war intensified, homes were burned down, many Sudanese were repeatedly tortured, and thousands of boys were forced to become red army soldiers by the rebels. Lomudak and his family hid in bushes during the day, barely keeping themselves alive by eating wild plants and fruits, and traveled after dark moving away from the fighting. He spent several years in refugee camps in neighbouring countries, lost two brothers due to the war and was recently reunited with his mother after 21 years of separation. In this talk, Lomudak gives his personal account of growing up in Sudan where he endured unimaginable brutality.

January 16, 2008, 7-8:30pm
Guest speaker: Jenny Peterson, Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow, Political Science Department, University of British Columbia
Topic: Rebuilding Kosovo: The Pros and Cons of Eight Years of International Intervention

Jenny Peterson is a Post-Doctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia where she teaches courses related to political violence. Her research, which focuses on 'war economies' and peace-building initiatives in post conflict states, took her to Kosovo in 2005 and 2006 where she lived and conducted research on the difficulties of rebuilding and preparing the territory for its as of yet unknown future.

January 30, 2008, 7-8:30pm
Guest speaker: Benjamin Perrin, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law, University of British Columbia
Topic: Prosecuting Nazi War Criminals: Examining the Foundation of Modern War Crimes Trials

Benjamin Perrin is an Assistant Professor at the UBC Faculty of Law, and is a Faculty Associate at the Liu Institute for Global Issues. His teaching and research interests include domestic and international criminal law, international humanitarian law, comparative constitutional law and human trafficking. Professor Perrin has advised judges at modern war crimes tribunals, including the Special Court for Sierra Leone and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague. He will discuss the legacy of the post-World War II war crimes tribunals and their contribution to modern efforts to bring war criminals to justice in countries like Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Cambodia and the former Yugoslavia.

Admission to the Behind the Wire Speaker Series is by donation. All proceeds made through these programs will be donated to charities in support of humanitarian activities.
Photo: Lauryn Oates of Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan
Photo courtesy of Lauryn Oates

The West Vancouver Museum thanks the financial support of Mercedes-Benz and North Shore News for this exhibition and Speaker Series.