By Deanna Fene'
JACKSONVILLE, FL -- Anthony Akech has spent a lifetime away from family and friends. He was one of the Lost Boys of Sudan. He was just seven-years old when he fled his homeland on foot. He was one of 30-thousand boys, some as young as five, who were exiled during civil wars. Only 16-thousand survived.
At the age of 18, Akech wanted to start a family of his own, so he married Achol Bol Dend in Kenya. Shortly after the wedding he had to leave for America. His new bride wasn't allowed to join him until now, four years later.
As Akech waits for his wife at the airport, he can hardly hold back the excitement. "I'm going to hug her and tell her I missed her for so long."
Several of the other Lost Boys of Sudan are waiting with him, along with his adopted mother Sharon Svihel who's a Sudanese missionary. Svihel says, "It is a wonderful and exciting occasion not only for him but for everyone who knows how much they all struggled to be able to come here to America to the land of freedom."
The last few minutes of waiting are almost too much to take for Akech, as he watches dozens of people walk down the concourse. He doesn't yet see his wife. "I feel like today's the best day for me."
Finally, he sees her walking down the concourse, but she doesn't see him at first.
He runs towards her and she drops her bags.
They run to each other and embrace and laugh.
It's been a long trip for Achol Bol Dend but she's thrilled to finally be in her husband's arms and to be in America.
Akech has a huge smile on his face. "I'm very happy."
After a lifetime of struggles, the two are ready to start a new life together in a land of freedom.
108 of the Lost Boys of Sudan currently live in Jacksonville. Only one other couple has been reunited. Several others are waiting.
First Coast News