PHOENIX - A boisterous 5-year-old boy sits next to Santino Nyang, switching back and forth between speaking English and his native language, Dinka.
Just five months ago, about 9,000 miles separated Nyang from his oldest child, Bak, who was living with his 3-year-old sister, Abuol, and their mother, Nybol.
"I have half my family here and half my family over there," he told 12 News. "So that is difficult."
The child's move to the United States is one piece of Nyang's ultimate dream, which is to have his entire family under one roof for the first time.
"His family means everything to him," said John Chandler, Nyang's friend. "He lights up when he talks about his son and his daughter and his wife."
Chandler's home is close to the Fry's Food and Drug store off 40th Street and Thunderbird Road, where Nyang is a cashier. The two met during a shopping trip and became close friends after Chandler learned of Nyang's past.
"After that movie came out with Reese Witherspoon about the Lost Boys of Sudan, I went up to him and quietly asked, “Were you one of those boys?” and he said, 'Yes,'" Chandler said.
Through the course of their friendship, Chandler said he learned Nyang had a family in Africa he would periodically visit.
"I want to have them with me," Nyang said. "So family together, it means a lot."
In an effort to help his friend, Chandler launched a GoFundMe page to collect funds to allow Nyang to travel to Uganda and begin bringing his family to the U.S.
Because Nyang is a citizen, so are his children. Bak was the first child to make the move, and Nyang hopes his daughter will be the next.
"[Bak] talks about his sister a lot. He misses her a lot, yes," Nyang said. "Not him alone. Me, too."
Nyang also plans to begin the paperwork process for citizenship for his wife, who he said wants to move to the U.S.
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