Former ‘Lost Boy of Sudan' becomes Atlanta police officer

Officer Jacob Mach

ATLANTA — From being a victim of war-ravaged Sudan to now protecting the citizens of Atlanta.

Jacob Mach, and his son, were all smiles for his first day at the Atlanta Police Department Wednesday but his past trauma as a child is something that many can’t even imagine.

Mach was one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, a group of 20,000 boys who were displaced or orphaned during a Sudanese civil war from 1983 to 2005. Thousands of the children were settled across dozens of cities in the United States.

About 2.5 million people were killed in the Second Sudan Civil War and millions were displaced.

The New York Times interviewed Mach in 2013 when he was training to become an Atlanta police officer.
Mach described how, as a boy, he was shot at many times and his father, a rebel soldier, was killed in a bombardment by government tanks and planes.

In the article, Mach said at age 7 he trekked barefoot, along with thousands of others refugees, to a camp in Ethiopia. They often ate leaves and watched friends drink their urine.

Mach had to return back to war-torn Sudan four years later after a new strife struck the camp. At age 12, the New York Times reports Mach hiked to northwest Kenya where he managed to stay for 10 years eating only one meal a day.


In 2001, The U.S. granted refugee status to Mach, and he was shipped to Clarkston, Georgia at the age of 21. He told the New York Times that he only had one change of clothes and a three-month guarantee of government support.

He worked many jobs leading up to his police career, unpacking produce at Publix, working the nightshift at a hotel, and other jobs making just a few dollars an hour.

After saving money, he was able to bring his wife from Kenya and they later had a son. Along the way, Mach told the New York Times he gained American citizenship, earned a bachelor's degree from Georgia State University and began supporting family members in Africa.

In 2012, Mach was hired as a recruit and trained to be an officer in the department. The New York Times described in detail his struggles in the training, in which he ultimately did not pass.

But after more training and soul-searching, Mach finally graduated to become an officer and realized his dream. His son was there on his first day on the job.