Guest Speaker Alephonsion Deng & Judy Bernstein
This annual literacy celebration is all about the power of words and stories.
In 1987, when Alephonsion was seven years old, his village in Southern Sudan was attacked
by government militias. To avoid capture he ran into the night with many other young
boys. Without food, water, shoes, or parents, he crossed 1,000 miles of lion-andcrocodile-infested
territory. After three years, he reached Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya where he languished
for nine years. His first memoir, They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky, written with
Judy A. Bernstein, Deng’s brother, Benson, and Deng’s cousin Benjamin, won many awards,
including the Christopher, and was a Los Angeles Times bestseller. His second memoir,
Disturbed In Their Nests, co-written with Judy A. Bernstein from their
contrasting points-of view, about his first year in America, was released in November 2018.
Judy A. Bernstein
In her capacity as a mentor with the International Rescue Committee in 2001, Judy met co-authors Benson Deng, Alephonsion Deng, and Benjamin Ajak. Awed and deeply touched by their tragic childhoods, epic journey, and heroic survival, she turned her attention to helping them develop their poignant stories.