Goy's Story

One family's battle beyond the border

War was how Goy’s life began.

His parents had both fled gunfire and flames in villages hundreds of miles apart. And it was in a refugee camp, among the other survivors, that they first met.

They fell in love. They married. And in the camp they gave birth to five children—the youngest was Goy.

Peace came and a new home with it. But Goy only ever knew peace and home as fragile things. When he was six years old, violence once more sent the family fleeing Sudan. They were a larger family now—Goy’s baby brother just three years old. And when they fled they returned to a life in a refugee camp, all of them together, grateful that they had all survived unscathed.

But there is a violence to war beyond soldiers and bullets. A different enemy had followed them across the border—hunger.

The conflict brought famine to Sudan and the outlying camps. After surviving war, Goy’s family and tens of thousands of other refugees now faced starvation. During those days upon days without food, Goy’s body started to change. His thinning limbs began to bend in strange ways. It became more and more difficult for him to walk. After six months, Goy could barely stand.

His parents brought Goy to a doctor in the camp, where they learned that malnutrition had created an abnormality in Goy’s brain that left him partially paralyzed.

They were devastated. 

All they had wanted as parents was to protect their children from war. And here it felt as though the bloodshed and brutality chased after them still, attacking now from within, seeping into the very bones of their child.

But in the days ahead, Goy found an escape. 


With his body crippled, Goy discovered a new kind of freedom in reading—in words that could take him where his body couldn’t. His father would find all the books he could in the camp, borrow and beg and bring them to him. In books, Goy found a world away from war and hunger. He found a life outside of the camp and a dream for what his own life could become.


Goy is now 10 years old. He has regained some of his strength to walk again. Today, his siblings attend the only school their family can afford—a free, government-run school over an hour’s walk away. But for Goy, in his condition, this walk is significantly longer. He joins his siblings when he can, but the difficulty and pain of the walk there and back again is too much for Goy to do every day. And on top of this, the school itself is underfunded and understaffed, and the bits and pieces of education he can receive there are significantly lacking.

There is another school—a private institution, well-funded with qualified teachers, and close enough to Goy’s home that he could walk there every day. Goy dreams of attending this school, of learning as much as he can from the teachers, and of one day becoming a teacher himself. His goal is that one day he may bring the joy of reading into other children’s lives. He wants to show them the possibilities he himself found beyond Sudan and the camps along its borders, in the boundless space between the covers of his books.

With your help, he can start on that journey today and take the first step toward a brighter future and a better life.