A Long Walk to Water

Chapter 3


Southern Sudan, 2008


As Nya got closer to the pond , the sun got brighter.  The dirt under her feet became more and more muddy  until she was up to her ankles in her water.  

The pond was always a busy place.  There were always a lot of people who came to get water like she did and animals who came to bathe in or drink the water.  

Nya took her emptycontainer and dipped it into the pond.  Brown, muddy water filled the container.  Before Nya left, she drank two cups full of the water.

Then, Nya put the container on her head and began to walk home.  She knew that walking home would take longer now that the container was full and very heavy.  She hoped to reach home before noon if everything went well. 

Southern Sudan,1985


Salva woke up in the barn alone and suddenly tears filled his eyes.  Salva felt so upset because he didn't want to be alone.  He knew that they had left him because he was a child.  They thought that he would slow them down because he would complain or move slowly.  

Salva knew he would not have done any of these things, but it was too late now. 

In the distance , Salva saw a woman sitting in the sun.  He was nervous, but slowly began to walk over to her.  Luckily, as he got closer he could see from the scars on herforehead that she was part of his tribe, the Dinka.  When Salva saw someone with the same scar patterns on their face as him he knew they were friendly because they were part of the same tribe, like family. 

Salva was glad that the woman was Drinka because if she had been Nuer, their enemy tribe, se would have killed him.

The Nuer and the Dinka had a long history of fighting.  They were always arguing about who owned which parts of the land. They had been fighting for hundreds of years. 

Salva finally went over to speak to the older woman sitting outside.  He said, "Good morning, Auntie".  The woman wasn't really his Aunt, but calling someone Auntie was a term of endearment  or kindness in his culture.  

The woman said, "You must be hungry" and then she walked away and came back a few minutes later with two handfuls of raw peanuts.  

"Thank you, Auntie" Salva said.  

The woman then asked Salva, "Where are your people?"

Salva wanted to answer, but his eyes just filled with tears.  The woman asked another question, "Are you an orphan?"

Salva shook his head no quickly and then said, "I was at school.  I ran away from the fighting.  I do not know where my family is" 

Salva stayed in the woman's barn that night and he started to make a plan.  He decided he would try and stay with the old woman until the fighting stopped and he could leave to find his family. At first, the plan worked and Salva was able to stay with the woman for three days.

However, after three days, the old woman told Salva that the water was drying up  and the fighting was getting too close to them so she had to leave.  She also told him that he would no longer be able to stay with her when she left.  

Salva walked back to the farm and felt sad and lost.  He thought to himself What will I do, where will I go?

Salva sat inside the barn for a while until all of a sudden he heard voices.  Salva walked towards the sound of the voices and he saw a small group of people.  

At first, he was nervous again not knowing if they were friendly or not, but as they got closer he saw two men had the Dinka scars on their forheads so he knew they were part of his tribe.

Salva realized these people were Dinka and he wondered, could his family be in the group??