May 30, 2012 (San Diego) – “The clash between traditional South Sudanese values and western values threatens the survival of families already rocked by decades of war, poverty and injustice,” says Walter Davis. “This book provides powerful tools with which the South Sudanese people can experience an epiphany."
Davis is editor of South Sudanese Community Insights, authored by John Chuol Kuek, chairman of the Southern Sudanese Community Center in San Diego and a refugee camp survivor. View an interview with Kuek conducted by Davis as guest host of Consider the Possibilities:
The book is positioned as a “cross-generational, cross-cultural rescue model for families and family counselors.” Topics range from Sudanese marriages and marriage partner selection for teens to the Sudanese cultural crisis in the west.
In the book, Kuek describes how life in refugee camps has “Traumatized this generation and completely changed their behaviors.” Born in the Sudan, Kuek entered a crowded refugee camp in Ethiopia at age 15.
There, he saw first-hand a severe lack of medical care, with just one or two doctors serving some 800,000 people sustained by a United National food program. South Sudanese refugees “saw their traditional values and dignity began to erode in the camps,” he wrote.
Most Sudanese refugees in the camps had never experience city life. Some found opportunities to gain an education and become leaders, inspiring others. But others set bad examples, preying upon the vulnerable.
Coming to America, refugees have been confronted by a vast cultural chasm. In the South Sudan, a man might marry 15 wives or more. Families accepted cattle from suitors as dowries for their daughters; marital disputes would be settled by family elders.
"This book is a must read for anyone interacting with the South Sudan population in either a public or private capacity," Davis advises.
Kuek hopes to help turn around those who are troubled in the community—and ultimately, in his homeland—now a new nation. “My long-standing dream resulted in this book addressing the enormous issues in diasporas ,” Davis concludes, “as well as in the newly formed country, the Republic of South Sudan.”
Kuek is former General Secretary of the Sudanese Community Association in San Diego. A minister and counselor specializing in East African culturally-appropriate therapies, he has worked helping refugees in Ethiopia’s Itang refugee camp as an interpreter and later, served as project coordinator of a behaviorial health project serving needs of the East African population. In San Diego, he has worked as a community health advocate to bridge cultural and language barriers for refugees and immigrants from South Sudan in the San Diego community.
Walters is a media consultant, web videographer and producer of public access TV programming. He forged his values in the civil rights era, surviving a church bombing that killed four young girls in Birmingham, Alabama. He grew up listening to Martin Luther King speak in church. Tragedy marred his life, from his father’ murder in 1968 to the gunning down of his pregnant wife and daughter in 1989 in Los Angeles. A Navy combat veteran with degrees in information technology and nautical industrial technology, Davis has devoted his life to standing up for human rights and social justice, documenting stories of internment camp survivors, hurricane Katrina victims and many others through Internet and cable TV programming.