[2015] Chey Nessinger: A long walk to water

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[2015] Chey Nessinger: A long walk to water

A Long Walk to WaterBy Linda Sue Park




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The novel A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park is set in Southern Sudan in Africa during the Sudanese Civil War in 1985. The protagonist, Salva, was in school one day, but all of a sudden the school boys were forced out of the school due to the war just outside of the building. Salva has had to walk many, many miles barefoot, in order to get to Ethiopia and Kenya. Once at the refugee camp in Kenya, Salva is one of the many chosen to become a Lost Boy of Sudan. Salva's experience is similar to most of the other men in South Sudan during this time. Although the young men were told that they would live a better life, the Lost Boys of Sudan lived an extremely cruel life before they were selected.

The Sudanese Civil War began in 1958 when the government formed and wasn't very powerful. The government believed that southern Sudan should be an all Muslim country. The Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) disagreed with the government, which started a terrible war about weather all of Sudan should be an all Muslim country or not. The government was not very wealthy, but could still afford some weapons to fight with. The war made children flee from their families because the children do not want to be forced to fight in the war with the SPLA. The outbreak of this war changed the lives of the Lost Boys of Sudan forever because the force fighting against the government began making the boys join the war. There were also migrants everywhere, which made the children end up having to steal and beg in order to get food and shelter. Most families lost all of their belongings, including blankets, sheets, shoes, clothes and pots to soldiers and thieves. The war was very overwhelming for the Lost Boys of Sudan, even before this part of the war started.The Lost Boys of Sudan played a tremendous part in the Sudanese Civil War. Life before the Lost Boys finally came to the United States was difficult; even before they were Lost Boys, children used to have to be sent away from their homes and raise cattle, but at the same time the kids would have to go to school or their job. Some families were too stressed about the war, so they would send their children away so they could get an education and get a job to make money for their family. The boys who would run away from home because they did not want to be forced to fight in the war and survived are now known as the Lost Boys of Sudan. Some of the Lost Boys also lost their lives to killer diseases, starvation, and animals that ate them. While most of the families and groups were walking thousands of miles to get to the refugee camps in Kenya, the lost boys who had been separated would sometimes lose their lives because they could not walk any longer, so they would sit down and wait until they died. The Lost boys had to go a long way to make it to refugee camps.The people that lived at refugee camps in Africa during this war were not treated respectfully. There were both young men and women that lived in these refugee camps, but the women were treated with less respect than the men. The people in the refugee camps think that the boys were better than the girls because the boys were sometimes forced to fight in the war, even though the women were left alone and sometimes killed. Some families did not want to get tied up in the war, so they would go to the refugee camps. During this war, in order to get to the refugee camps in Kenya, people had to walk through heavy rains, rivers, but once in the refugee camps, the Red Cross gave the people hospitality and would nourish them back to health. Because this was happening, the refugee camps would secretly send the girls to america, like they did with the boys. About 40,000 men came to America, after they got to the refugee camps. Most of the older men that came to the United States got help from the IRC so they could get an education or find jobs. The fighting of this war has gotten so out of hand, that the camps have had to send people to the United States.

The Lost Boys of Sudan lived a terrible life during the Sudanese Civil War. Salva Dut’s experience during the Sudanese Civil War has really changed the way I look at life in Africa. I thought Africa was a peaceful country, it is the opposite of that. I learned that people like the Lost Boys had to run away from their families, even at 6 or 7 years old so that they didn’t have to fight in the war. Also, most of the boys didn’t get to see their family since they got into the United States. At first when I read this novel, I didn’t fully understand why the two forces were fighting against each other, but once I did some research I could dig deeper into the facts and figure out everything that was happening in Africa. The Lost Boys of Sudan could never have made it to America without the help the refugee camps built in Africa.

By Chey Nessinger

Author of A Long Walk to Water


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