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A Long Walk To Water

This provides insight on the chapters of "A Long Walk To Water". Contains a spoiler or two, so READ THE BOOK FIRST!
by

Jordan Werner

on 5 May 2015

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Transcript of A Long Walk To Water

Dinka and Nuer
Tribes
The water situation in Sudan is, like many other situations, not the best. There is very little water anywhere in Sudan. This is mainly because of the climate. It is always hot in Sudan, so the water evaporates really quickly. During the rainy season most people can get water to their houses within a day, but when the dry season starts everyone has to move closer to water so they can survive. The Dinka tribe and the Nuer tribe have been enemies for decades, maybe more. Once the dry season rolls around, people from both tribes end up at the same pond. This creates more conflict between Dinka and Nuer. Because the pond is there all year round, some people stay all-time too. The land around the pond is really good for farming. Throughout the year, the people from both tribes fight each other for the land around the pond. Dinka’s and Nuer’s have been injured and even killed because of this fighting. The dispute is still going while both Salva and Nya are alive. To this day in Sudan, the Dinka and Nuer tribe fighting hasn’t stopped. It’s a shame, really. If they could get along, it would be good for everyone. People could share supplies, and talk to each other as well.
Water for South
Sudan
Salva, in case you didn’t know, is a real boy and A Long Walk to Water is a true story. You already know that Salva ended up digging a well for Nya’s Nuer village. You also know that Salva had dug wells for Dinka villages as well. In case you didn’t look further into it, Salva actually started his own organization when he was in America. He called it Water for South Sudan, and Salva raises money to dig wells. When he started it, he said that the point was to give back to the place he once called home. Salva is now giving an amazing gift to the people of South Sudan: water. Now, people in Southern Sudan can now spend more time with their families because their time is not consumed by finding water. Also, people are not as stressed for survival anymore. They have one of the main sources of life right at their fingertips.
The Gilo River
There was a huge catastrophe at the Gilo River when Salva and everyone at the camp were forced to leave Ethiopia. As they were being chased, everyone became aware that they were being forced across the Gilo River. Across the Gilo River and back to Sudan. Once the group reached the riverbank, everyone stood along it. The soldiers were forcing people into the water, and some people were so scared of the soldiers they jumped in on their own. Others, like Salva, were more scared of the current and the crocodiles than the soldiers. Those people stayed on the bank. Eventually, the soldiers started shooting to kill, so Salva jumped in. A kid grabbed his neck and ended up pushing him under. Salva was annoyed at first, but then realized it saved his life. The kid who grabbed him had been shot in the back of the neck. After a few seconds, Salva caught his breath and swam. He made it across safely. I can’t even begin to imagine how that felt. No matter what you did, it was almost certainly suicide. You stayed on the bank, you got shot. No doubt on that. You jumped in, one of two things could happen: you could be attacked by a crocodile, or you could be swept away by the current. Or you could have a combo, and get attacked by a crocodile while fighting an extremely strong current. That’s a multiple choice question that I really do not want to answer. Is there a “none of the above”? Those were the three options that I think went through the people’s minds. I think some of them, too, might have thought about trying to hide or run. But, honestly, there was probably nowhere to hide. Also, if they ran, it would attract at least one soldier’s attention. BAM! Another shot off at an innocent person. It’s horrible what happened there. 1,000 dead is a crazy number. Those people from the refugee camps didn’t deserve it by any means, but as I said, that government is really cruel. People still remember it today, but I’m not sure that the government cares.
History of Sudan
Sudan is an unsafe place to live because of the government, and because of all the fighting in the past. The government in Sudan has done horrible things to its people. The Sudanese government abuses human rights. Some examples of these include: widespread killings, recruitment of child soldiers, robbery, and systematic torture. Almost 2 million Sudanese people have died from civil war since 1983. In 1983, an Islamic law was passed. This worsened the disagreement between the North and South. Differences in language, religion, political power, and other things created a never-ending civil war. Salva lives in Sudan at the time of this war between North and South. As a young boy, he witnesses war and bloodshed. He sees these things because of the government.
Why Salva and
Nya?
There must be a reason, in my mind, why the author decides to tell the story from these two people’s perspectives. Salva is a Dinka boy, who lives in Sudan in 1985. Nya is a Nuer girl, who lives in Sudan in 2008. There is a 23 year gap, and Nya and Salva are from tribes that have hated each other for generations. It’s just not a coincidence. I think that Linda Sue Park told the story from the perspective of Salva and Nya because there is a connection between men in Salva’s life and men in Nya’s. There are probably 10 or more different situations in which they could be connected, but there is one specific that stands out to me. The one that speaks to me the most is when those three Nuer men kill Salva’s uncle. I think that somehow, those Nuer men are connected in Nya’s life somehow, maybe even a relative of hers. That’s my take on why Linda chose those two characters, but it might turn out completely different.
A Long Walk To Water
U.S. vs. Sudan
Medical Emergencies in Sudan
Just like everywhere else in the world, there are medical complications in Sudan. Most of these are caused by the water (or lack there of). The water is dirty, and it has bacteria in it. The bacteria will multiply and make the person sick. There are 2 main ways they treat sicknesses. One way they do it is to just wait and see if the sick person recovers. The other way is that they take the sick person to a medical place that has nurses and doctors, and the doctors give them medicine. After the patient starts to recover, the nurse will tell either the patient or their family how to prevent the sickness in the future. In Nya’s story, her sister Akeer gets sick from the water. In her case, the nurse tells her and Akeer’s family to boil the water to get rid of the bacteria. That’s how Nya’s family will prevent the sickness. I don’t think that there is a sure way to improve the situation. I say this because there will always be a dry season, and people will always have to dig for water at that time. If everyone boiled their water, the sicknesses would probably happen less often. The only problem with that, as Nya said, is the fact that the water can only be collected in small amounts, so it would evaporate quickly. The water would be better, both now and when the book takes place, if it came from deeper underground. The water from underground is clean and cool, so there wouldn’t be as much bacteria in it.

Refugee Camps
In the book, Salva and the other Dinka people walk until they make it to a refugee camp in Ethiopia. The purpose of a generic refugee camp is to help people. The specific refugee camp that Salva went to helped Sudanese people who ran from the fighting. If you are in the camp, the people who set it up help you. They give you food and water. They also provide different items for you, like a tarp or blanket to make a tent. There are also aids there to treat the sick and injured people. If you were watching a refugee camp, you would see thousands upon thousands of people. Some camps are bigger than others. One may have about 5,000 people, while another may have upwards of 25,000. Some people would be talking amongst themselves, others receiving supplies, others still just arriving. More would be getting medical treatment, others reuniting with family or friends, some others walking around. There are tons of other things happening, too. Refugee camps are constantly in motion.
It’s great that they existed to help people when the book takes place, and that they exist now. That way everyone can get help if they need it..
After the Book
Well, now the book is over. Everything was wrapped up pretty nicely, if you ask me. Now I'll put a pretty bow on it. We now know that my earlier prediction of why the author told the story from Salva’s and Nya’s points of view (“Why Salva and Nya?”) was wrong. As you have probably heard in literacy classes multiple times, every book has one or more themes. The most important theme I see in this book is that anyone can do the seemingly impossible if they just keep going. Salva and all the other people walking who made it pushed themselves to their limits, physically and emotionally. But they did the seemingly impossible: they made it alive. Everyone who survived had to keep going and going, keep telling themselves that they would make it. That paid off. I think that Linda Sue Park told the readers this in many different fashions. She told us, the readers, through Salva’s words. She told us through Salva’s thoughts. Linda also told us through Salva’s actions. Park also made it clear through the actions and words of other people that were walking with Salva.
The U.S. and Sudan have completely different worries. In the U.S., people don’t have to worry about surviving everyday. We can drive to the grocery store and pick up whatever food we need. We have water running through our houses. People in the US just flip a switch and ta-da! You can see in the dark! It’s much different in Sudan. They worry about just making it to tomorrow. Sudanese people can’t just hop in a car and go to a grocery store, or turn a tap and have water, or flip a switch and have light. We can bathe every night, wash our clothes whenever we need to, and we even use water just for fun when we swim. But in Sudan, you have to worry about bathing in clean water. You don’t waste your water swimming in it. And you have to use murky water to wash your clothes. Everyday in the U.S, people get concerned when they have 10% battery left in their phone. People in Sudan haven’t even seen cell phones. This just shows how much we have and don’t recognize.Even today in Sudan they still don’t have any of the things that we do. They have no idea what it’s like. But we take advantage without second thought.
Top= U.S. Bottom= Sudan
Dinka
Nuer
Picture:
Refugee Camp in Ethiopia
People in Sudan helped
by the orgnization
Jordan Werner
Full transcript