Another World in Sudan

Daily walks barefoot in blazing heat over thorny paths to fetch water, eight hours every day.  A civil war raging, tribe against tribe, African vs. Arabic, Muslim vs. non-Muslim.  A child could not be a child during the Second Sudanese Civil War beginning in 1983.

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park is a short novel that follows the daily struggles of Nya, a girl whose daily job was to walk all morning and then all afternoon to fetch water for her family from a muddy pond, and Salva, a boy who felt lucky to attend school until the war that came to his village forced him to flee with hundreds of others across Southern Sudan to refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya.

Salva Dut's story is fictionalized, but based on the true story of his life and struggles as one of the Lost Boys during the war in Sudan, boys who were separated from their families, often to become orphans as they fled for their lives to find safety elsewhere.  Salva was one of 3,000 boys and young men chosen by the International Red Cross to be taken to America where he was welcomed and educated.  Millions of others at home were not so lucky;  they were killed, imprisoned, starved, tortured, enslaved, and permanently displaced from their homes and families. 

Salva made it his mission to start a project, Water For Sudan, where his dreams of helping his people back home drill wells has become a reality.  Some of the conflicts in Sudan continue, but Salva's message, told in Park's story, is one of hope, perseverance, and inspiration.

Newbery medalist Linda Sue Park has written a wide variety of historical and contemporary works, including novels, poetry, and picture book texts.  Her website can be found here.  Salva's project and story can be followed on a number of websites including this. Although this is an upper level children's fiction book in the Orange County library system, it enriches our understanding of conditions in this part of Africa,  a worthy selection for discussion and sharing.

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