Stephanie Caspelich

Reporting the news that matters.

Posts Tagged ‘Rogers Park

The Lost Boys of Sudan: A Story of Survival, Resettlement and the Ongoing Struggle to Promote Peace in South Sudan

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The voices of South Sudan filled the halls of St. Paul’s Church by-the-Lake.

It was Sunday and a small group of refugees from South Sudan gathered at the Episcopal Church in Rogers Park, one of the most culturally and economically diverse neighborhoods on the far north side of Chicago. Most of the parishioners are male between the ages of 30 and 35. They have come to sing hymns and read the gospel of the week in Dinka, the dialect of South Sudan’s major ethnic group.

“The church has been our place of refuge since most of us arrived in Chicago in 2001,” said The Rev. Awan Abraham, 33, a deacon from South Sudan. “We use to have our community gatherings in the rectory on Thursday evenings, but the volunteers stopped coming in 2007. We have since transitioned to this more prayerful format.”

The Lost Boys of Sudan is a term given by aid workers in refugee camps to more than 20,000 young boys who were displaced during Sudan’s second civil war from 1983 to 2005. The children were caught in the middle of the conflict between the Islamic central Sudanese government led by Prime Minister Sadiq Al-Mahdi and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army  led by rebel leader John Garang.

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Tickie’s Belizean Restaurant: A Taste of Central America in Rogers Park

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Tickie’s Belizean Restaurant has been serving rice and beans, ginger beer and stew chicken in Rogers Park since 1997. It has become a distinct reminder of home for the thousands of Belizeans who have lived in Chicago since the 1940s.

“My wife Claudia and I picked this location. We actually did some research and found out that there is a huge community of Belizeans here,” said Hubert Young, 57, owner and chef. He has lived in Chicago since 1978.

According to the 2000 U.S. Census, there are roughly 4,242 Belizeans in the metropolitan area. Aside from Rogers Park, Belizeans have settled in EvanstonWaukegan, Zion and the South Side of Chicago.

Belizean society is just as diverse as its cuisine. “The culture from Belize is a mixture. You have the Spanish, Garifuna (a mix of African, Arawak and Carib ancestry), the local Belizean; it really is like the United Nations,” said Hubert. “You have people from all walks of life. It’s that kind of a country.”

Belize is bordered by Mexico to the north, Guatemala to its south and west, and the Caribbean Sea to the east. It is a Central American country that has strong ties to the Caribbean and Latin America; the mixture of influences is evident in the food.

“I come here often because the food tastes good and the flavors are familiar,” said Michael Allen, a transplanted Jamaican who has been a loyal customer for years despite the abundance of Jamaican restaurants in the area.

“You don’t have to be Belizean to feel welcome here. People from all walks of life come in to eat,” said Claudia. “We try to make everyone feel comfortable, feel at home. Hopefully, we give them a reason to come back.”

Written by Stephanie Caspelich

February 14, 2012 at 6:34 am


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A compilation of current reporting and archived published work of journalist Nate Thayer