A Long Walk to Water

by Linda Sue Park

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How does water influence Nya's life in A Long Walk to Water?

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Water dictates Nya's whole life. She lives in a remote village in Sudan during a particularly long and brutal civil war. For most of the year, she needs to make two long walks a day to a pond in order to fetch water for her family. During the dry season,...

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things get even harder for her family when they settle near a lake, although Nya appreciates the fact that she no longer has to walk such a long distance for water.

Nonetheless, she still needs to dig the clay from the bed of a lake with her bare hands, all for a small amount of filthy, contaminated water. What for most people is the giver and sustainer of life brings disease and sickness to Nya's sister, Akeer. For Nya at this stage in her life, water is both essential and yet injurious to health.

However, water gives birth to a new life for Nya. This new life is also dictated by water but this time in a positive way. A group of engineers arrives in Nya's village and begins the long, laborious process of drilling for clean water. When the well is finally completed, Nya is pleased to know that she will no longer have to travel long distances to fetch water and that the water from the well will be clean and safe. Even better, the building of the well will lead to the establishment of a village school, a clinic, and a marketplace.

The well is now, figuratively speaking, the center of the village. As a consequence, Nya's life will still be dictated by water to a large extent but the quality of that life will be so much better.

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