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A ‘Lost Boy’ struggles to find a home in Kansas City

A recent 60 Minutes segment, “The Lost Boys of Sudan: 12 Years Later” (March 31st), profiled Joseph Taban Rufino. Joseph is a “Lost Boy” who, despite many setbacks and obstacles, is trying to build a successful life here in Kansas City.

The 60 Minutes story revealed Joseph’s string of bad luck since moving to Kansas City: He’s been robbed, he’s been stabbed, he’s been hit by a car, his driver’s license was stolen from him, his own car was flooded with rainwater, and his kitchen was set on fire.

Undaunted, Joseph remains a steadfast Kansas Citian. He’s now working full-time again to save money to attend medical school here in KC.

Recently, a “Go Fund Me” website called “Help Joseph Visit His Mom” ( was created. Copy on the site includes the following:

“Please continue to share the link wherever you can. at this point (Joseph) is diligently working to replace the travel documents that were stolen with his car…For those of you asking about his medical studies, Joseph is hopeful we can raise enough money for him to begin taking classes. A number of doctors have also reached out so there is hope that someone can direct his medical career…”

“You know, things, things happen,” said Rufino, when 60 Minutes correspondent Bob Simon asked if he liked in here in Kansas City.

Still, Joseph endured some more bad news: He was laid off a few times from his job at a grain company, a victim of the tough economy. He’s back at work now, and in his small, dimly lit apartment still studies medical books, even while his dream of going to medical school is slipping away.

An exchange between Simon and Rufino, filmed in Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza, went as follows:

Bob Simon: “Do you feel like you’ve been successful in America?”

Joseph Taban Rufino: “Not at all. My main aim was to go to the school in order to be what I've said, to be a doctor. But things fall apart.”

Simon: “So unless you’re a doctor, you will not feel that you are successful?”

Rufino: That’s true.

Within a year after Rufino’s arrival in Kansas City in 2001, Joey McLiney, a Kansas City investment banker, took Joseph under his wing and put him in the saddle. McLiney offered up his brand new car for Joseph’s first driving lesson.

60 Minutes first profiled the Lost Boys of Sudan in 2001, in a segment detailing how the boys fought off unspeakable dangers and then flew off to various U.S. cities, including Kansas City.

It all began in the 1980s, during Sudan’s civil war, in which more than two million people died. The boys’ parents were killed; their sisters often sold into slavery. Many of the boys died too. But the survivors, thousands of them, started walking across East Africa—alone.

Five years later the Lost Boys walked into a refugee camp in Kenya, hoping to make it to the United States—and nearly 3,000 of them did, as part of the largest resettlement of its kind in American history.

That’s where 60 Minutes began their story coverage. Eventually, Joseph’s name came up in lottery to move to the United States, to a place he had never heard of called Kansas City.


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