The play begins in the small Sudanese village where Salva was born. The audience meets his family and learns about his everyday life in the peaceful time, before the wars. School was very important to these children, and Salva is at school in a neighboring town when the attacks begin. Separated from his family, he and his schoolmates know only to run and hide. On the advice of a woman who provides a temporary refuge, the boys begin the long trek to Kenya and relative safety, meeting up with other bands of similarly displaced children along the way. The hazards they face are almost inconceivable to the Western mind, and the losses are many. Eventually some of them do make it to the refugee camp, where the International Red Cross has established a program to find homes for the boys in the US and around the world. Salva finds a new family in the US, and learns that only his father has survived the fighting back home.
*Note: In the popular press, these children were dubbed the “Lost Boys” of Sudan. From the beginning, Salva expressed a preference for the term “Walking Boys” because they were not lost, but condemned, through no fault of their own, to a 1500-mile journey on foot.