A Long Walk to Water

by Linda Sue Park
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How does the title fit both Salva and Nya’s journeys?

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The title “A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story” fits Nya’s journey as she and the whole of her village endure years of acute water shortages before a well is finally dug in the village. Before this, Nya had to make two trips to the pond daily in order to fetch water for her family. A single trip took up a half of a day so that Nya had little time for anything else for the rest of the day.

During the dry season, her family would move to a camp near the lake, where Nya and other women dug up water from the drying bed of the lake. Living conditions at the lake camp were difficult as there were no houses. Most people, Nya’s family included, had to live in crude shelters and hunt for their food. The little water that was dug up from the bed of the lake was not good for drinking and sometimes caused serious infections. The well that is built in Nya’s village thus comes after many years of suffering and is greatly welcomed by the whole village.

The title fits Salva’s journey as it takes him many years of suffering, perseverance, and hard work to finally be able to give back to his community in Southern Sudan. He has to walk for months, through rough and dangerous terrains to reach the first refugee camp at Itang. He walks another year and a half to reach the second refugee camp in the Northern part of Kenya. Throughout the journey, he suffers many challenges—marauding lions, Nuer looters, starvation, and near death. In spite of the many challenges that he faces, he does not give up the hope for a better life.

While at a refugee camp in Northern Kenya, he is lucky to be relocated to America where he is adopted by a caring family. Though his life changes for the better, he does not forget his homeland and works hard to come up with ways of impacting the lives of his people positively. Through the encouragement and support of friends, he starts the “Water for Sudan” project that drills wells for poor villages in Southern Sudan.

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