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Alepho Deng – What lions will you face?


He rose calmly and spoke graciously: “Hello Suffield, and thank you for feeding me. I learned to say thank you when people provide acts of generosity and kindness.” Alepho Deng gave a chapel talk on the topic of genocide as Suffield’s guest speaker on October 16. A “Lost Boy of Sudan” and author of They Poured Fire on Us from the Sky, Alepho fled genocide in Sudan 18 years ago, ultimately making his way to Kenya and then America. His book details his experience of survival and adapting to life in the United States.
 
Headmaster Cahn joined Ala Ietta ’18 and Jenna Torki ’18 in introducing Alepho and spoke about two of Suffield’s core fundamental values: respect for all people and an intolerance of discrimination. As he stated earlier this fall to both students and parents, “Suffield is a place where genuine fundamental respect for others is a requirement and discrimination or intolerance will not be accepted. These are absolute and in no way relative values. The foundation of our community rests on kindness and respect.” In speaking to today’s events he added, “There is no greater example of intolerance than genocide.”
 
Alepho's family is one of hundreds of thousands torn apart by Sudan's two-decade civil war, which pitted Arab northerners against black southerners in a struggle over power, land, and oil. Describing the day his village was attacked in 1987, Alepho recalled the fires and bullets and men on horses. He spoke about fear, courage, and the dehumanizing realities of genocide. “War makes everyone equal,” he said. “It breaks you down and leaves wounds. I have seen broken arms and legs and death, but nothing compares to the wounds people carry within themselves.”
 
As he concluded his talk Alepho recalled a moment his father stood ground against an attacking lion and explained what he learned about survival. “In life you will face lions,” he assured. “This is a reality. Sometimes it seems lions are here to destroy us, but they are in fact here to prepare us. The things I learned from my parents are what kept me alive. What are the lions you face today? The things your parents taught you might be the very things that save your life.”

You may view all chapel talks here.

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