The story revolves around a young girl — Ponti — whose life in her small village in southern Sudan is simple and complicated at the same time. But when the war comes and there is only one thing for Poni to do. Run. Run for her life. Driven by the sheer will to survive and the hope that she can somehow make it to the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, Poni sets out on a long, dusty trek across the east African countryside with thousands of refugees. In Kakuma she is almost overwhelmed by the misery that surrounds her. Poni realizes that she must leave the camp at any cost. Her next destination is a refugee compound in Nairobi. There, if she is lucky, she can continue her education and even one day convince authorities that she is worthy to go to the land of opportunity called America. Even more than the dramatic events of the story, it is Poni’s frank and single-minded personality that carries this novel. In a heartbreaking final twist, she finds her mother just as she is about to leave for the U.S., and must make the hardest decision of all.
All royalties from the sale of the book will be donated to Africare.org, a charitable organization that works with local populations to improve the quality of life for people in Africa.
Laura DeLuca teaches anthropology at University of Colorado in Boulder.
In 2003 she began to do research on Sudanese refugee youth living in Colorado, and in 2005 she was an invited participant in the Rift Valley Institute’s Sudan Field School held in Rumbek, South Sudan. She has also served as an anthropological consultant for a documentary film about female refugee youth.
Before working with Sudanese refugees, and teaching at Colorado, Laura worked in Kenya and Tanzania on conservation and development issues. In 2000-2001 she studied conservation conflicts in the Serengeti and ecotourism programs developed in conjunction with Maasai youth. In Kenya, she has also worked as a project director for Operation Crossroads Africa. Laura taught in Kisumu, Kenya as a Peace Corps Volunteer.