Imagine you are an eleven-year-old girl living in a place where there is no running water and you have to fetch water twice a day for your family. Now imagine the water source is two hours walk away from home. Across desert. And the water source is a muddy pond. Imagine you are an eleven-year-old boy, sitting in your classroom, when gunfire rings out. Your teacher tells you to flee. Not toward your family, but away from them. If you go toward your family, you will be either killed or captured and made to fight. You may never see your family again.
Based on the real life story of Salva Dut, A Long Walk To Water, by Linda Sue Park, is a moving portrayal of life during two different times in the history of Sudan. In 1983, the Second Sudanese Civil War began. It drove families from their homes and separated many. Thousands people, primarily boys and young men, were forced to walk hundreds of miles through dangerous desert lands to achieve a small degree of safety in refugee camps set up in other countries. Salva Dut endured months of walking and years of refugee camps before being allowed to go to America.
Fast forward to 2008 and the story of Nya. Every day, she has to get water for her family. During the dry season, they walk three days to camp by a dried-up lake bed for five months. The lake has no water pooling in it, but if they dig through the clay of the lake bed, they can find enough water to sustain them. They are unable to live by the lake year round because of the fighting between their tribe and another. Then, Nya’s little sister becomes very ill, and the doctors tell the family it is because of the dirty water.
How Salva’s and Nya’s stories intersect is a hope-filled journey.