I had planned to spend my Christmas vacation with St. George's School of Medicine in South Sudan, but instead, South Sudan came to me. I am assisting Fox News Contributor Ellen Ratner with a young blind boy named Ker Deng.
Ellen and her brother brought Ker to the United States last August. Ker doesn't like to talk about the details of the day he lost his vision, but he has told us that he was hung over a fire and peppers were rubbed in his eyes. Ker and his mother are two of the tens of thousands of South Sudanese held as slaves in Northern Sudan. Ker's mother is still there.
My week with Ker began when I picked him up in Boston at the Perkins School for the Blind, the same school that educated Helen Keller. He remembered me from South Sudan this past summer. The last time I saw him, he spoke as much English as I speak Dinka. This time he said, "Cho!" and then he was speaking so quickly I had to ask him to slow down.
In just over four months he has become fluent. He now speaks his native tongue, Dinka, Arabic and English. He is sitting next to me as I write this, working on his Braille. He loves music and is learning to play the piano and guitar. He offered to teach me "Mary Had a Little Lamb today." I protested that I don't know how to play the piano. He said, "Cho, it's easy. My teacher at Lighthouse taught me," and he took my hands and showed me the notes.
He is a gifted drummer, but he told me yesterday that he is bored with the drums. He admitted his favorite Christmas Carol, however, is Little Drummer Boy. "I love rumpa pum pum," he said.
Ker has great intellectual curiosity. Our first dinner conversation covered Jesus and Malaria. Ker asked, "Why don't some people believe Jesus is the Son of God?"