What I have been through is not something one can ever forget. I come from a very poor family, but I believe I have a future: I want to help my people and make Darfur a safer and better place for all people from that region of Sudan. It was my dream to study since I was kid, but I have faced many challenges along the way. I survived the genocide in Darfur.
I came to the United States as a student both because I wanted to study and because I needed a safe place to do so. I was born in 1986 in a village called Mara in Darfur with the name Abdelhamid Yousif Ismail Adem. I am the second of four brothers and three sisters. I recently discovered that one of my brothers is alive, but I do not know whether the rest are alive today. After seeing people being killed in the name of religion, I converted from Islam to Christianity. With this change, I decided to change my name to Guy [JOSIF].
My parents were farmers who cultivated fruits like citrus. We owned cows, goats, sheep, horses, and camels. We were self-reliant. There were around 2,000 people in our village; all of us were farmers. Before the genocide happened I used to help my father and mother in the farm when I returned from school. Unfortunately, I had to stop attending school after grade six. My parents could not afford the fees.
In 2003 our lives changed indefinitely. The war broke out in Darfur and my village was looted and burned. We remained with nothing. One afternoon in August, 2003 we were having tea together and my brothers were playing in front of us. Suddenly nine people with Sudanese military uniforms came into our compound and started beating us. Our village was attacked by around 200 members of the Janjaweed. They came on foot, horse, camels, and cars with machine guns and Kalashnikovs, shooting at every human being in sight. They burned all the houses in our village and took the cattle. I got a chance to escape, but never saw my family again.
While running I met some people from the UN Mine Action office and they stopped and asked me where I was going. I told them that my village was burned and that I left my family there. I told them I was not sure if the villagers survived. I was afraid. I stayed with them while they hid me in their car and went to my village. They saw that everyone was killed and they could not find my family. They took me to their main office in Khartoum where I started working with them as a security guard. There was one man who supported me to go to the Evangelical school in the evenings. I studied from class one up to class four. I continued to the Young Men’s Christian Association Centre then to Abraham Higher School in Bahre where I sat for my high school examination and succeeded.
I began studying at Juba University, Khartoum. After one month, the government created a plan to arrest, imprison, and torture the students from Darfur or South Sudan. Some of my good friends were killed. I was arrested for three months and put in prison, tortured, and beaten. They asked me what I was doing working with the UN. I was released and arrested again and again. The man who had helped me from the UN wrote in the newspaper that he had helped a displaced person from Darfur who had no family. In the article he explained that I was arrested a few times and that bad things had happened to me and he requested my release. The security men released me and told me that I had one week to leave Sudan.
I traveled to Egypt by train where I spent one month before finding people to help me get to Israel. In the evening we were taken by a small bus to a Bedouin camp where I stayed for nine days. We were 23 people from Darfur and Eritrea. Thirteen got killed in front of our eyes; only ten survived and arrived in Israel. The Egyptian border patrol shoots at people randomly. People arrive in Israel with bullet wounds, families are separated at the border, and others lose their lives there.
After all this, I was looking for a place where I can be safe to study and do something for future generations. My dream is that with an education I can create change. Education is the key to life, but in Israel it was too hard to go to school. I was accepted to the College of Lake County in Grayslake, Illinois and have been studying there since January, 2013.
Here in the United States, I can get the education I need to help my people back in Darfur.