In 2001, Bethany Presbyterian Church and Catholic Family Center helped Palath Thonchar and 8 of his fellow Sudanese “Lost Boys” relocate to Rochester after spending years in Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. They were separated from their families 22 years ago, witnessed terrible death and destruction, and journeyed far and dangerous distances to survive. During the long running civil war in Sudan, the “Lost Boys and Girls” relied on God’s grace and their strong Christian faith to endure hardships that we can hardly imagine.
When Palath and the others arrived, it was Bethany’s Refugee Resettlement Team that met him at the airport. They helped him find a place to live, receive medical care, and employment. They taught him the bus system, methods of banking, and helped him understand strategies for life in America. Palath is a survivor. He has worked full-time for Wegmans Food Markets in their warehouse while going to school in the evenings at Monroe Community College and the Rochester Institute of Technology, where he received his bachelor’s degree in Finance. Every day Palath is grateful to God and thankful for the love and support he has gotten from his Bethany family.
In 2009 Palath made a trip back to South Sudan. He has never forgotten his painful journey or long-lost family. He was determined to find and visit his ailing mother and younger sister and brother. He was happy and overjoyed when this happened, but also heart broken to witness the terrible conditions for those in nearby villages. Many were suffering from illness and dying because medical attention and medicines were not available. He dreamed of building a medical clinic to help and give back to those less fortunate than him.
Palath has begun the journey of building that medical clinic in Panrieng, South Sudan. Palath is once again drawing on his Bethany family and friends in his new home for encouragement and help to make his dream a reality.