A Long Walk to Water is a short novel which is based on the true story of one of the Sudanese “Lost Boys” who were airlifted to the United States in the mid-1990s. The novel was written by Linda Sue Park and published in 2010.
The character of Salva Dut is based on a real person who grew up in a small Sudanese village. He is eleven years old when the novel opens, and he and his family are part of the Dinka tribe. He is described as being a happy and intelligent young boy who is enjoying school. One day, while he is in the schoolroom, he hears gunshots outside, as fighting has erupted between the government forces and the rebels. Salva is forced to join a group of people who leave the village, taking him away from his home and his family.
Salva spends many years with this group as they travel across the country in search of a safe haven. The group is led by Salva’s uncle Jewiir, who teaches him about strength, faith, and hope. Following the murder of his uncle, Salva is still buoyed by his words and remains courageous, brave, and determined. He is not only determined for his own survival, but for others too, and he leads more than one thousand Lost Boys to a refugee camp.
Salva stays in many refugee camps across the country before he is adopted and taken to live in Rochester, New York. After reuniting with his father, Salva founds Water for Sudan, a non-profit organization that gives clean drinking water to Sudanese villages. Salva is a survivor, a leader, selfless and compassionate.