A Long Walk to Water

Chapter 4 

Southern Sudan, 2008

When Nya got home her mother took the container from her and poured water in three large jars.  Then, she gave Nya a bowl of oatmeal  with a little milk and Nya went outside to eat.

When Nya was done eating she brought the bowl back inside and her mom said to her, "Take Akeer with you to the pond, she needs to learn".  Nya nodded and took her little sister, Akeer, by her hand.  Together, the two of them would make their second trip to the pond that day. 

To the pond and back--to the pond and back--nearly a full day of walking.  This was what Nya did everyday, seven months of the year.

Daily. Every single day. 

Southern Sudan, 1985

As the group walked closer and closer to Salva he realized that his family was not with them.  They were all strangers.  When the old woman saw the group she asked them, "Where are you going? Will you take this one with you, he is alone?" 

A member of the group said, "He is a child. He will slow us down" 

Another member of the group said, "Another mouth to feed? It is already hard enough to find food, he can't join us"

Finally, a woman in the group spoke with the leader.  Salva didn't know what she said, but afterwards the woamn nodded and turned to the group and said, "We will take him with us".


Before he left the old woman she gave him a bag full of peanuts and a gourd  full of water.  Salva was so thankful for all of the help the woman had given him.  

Then, the group left and Salva began walking.  Salva walked all day, everyday,  He walked for miles. As he walked, he thought of the same words over and over again Where is my family? Where is my family?

At night, Salva slept on the ground  The terrain  changed as they walked from scrub to woodland ; they walked among many half-grown trees.  There was very little food to eat.  They had a few pieces of fruit here and there, but they were always worm-rotten  or unripe  and sour.  

After walking for about a week, they were joined by more people.  Most of the people who joined them were also Dinka, but a few were from another tribe called the Jur-chol.  

Even with the new group members all they did was walk.  Walking to nowhere.

Salva had never felt so hungry in his life. He stumbled  along, somehow moving one foot in front of the other.  Nothing felt real to Salva except for his hunger. It was so painful and constant  it was all he could think about. 

Usually, Salva was able to keep up and walk with the Dinka.  But today he had fallen a little behind the rest of the group.  Walking next to Salva was a young man from the Jur-chol tribe.  Salva didn't know much about him, except his name was Buksa.

Buksa walked with Salva, but suddenly he stopped.  Buksa tilted  his head and said, "Ah, there, do you hear that?"

Salva had no idea what Buksa was talking about.  

"Yes! There it is again!" Buksa said. and Buksa began walking very quickly.  


Buksa finally turned to Salva and told him to run and tell the others that he had been following the sound of a bird.  Then, Buksa pointed up to the branches of a tree and said, "Look, a beehive , the bird led me right here"

Salva hurried off to tell the rest of the group.  He had heard that the Jur-chol tribe could follow bird calls, but he had never seen it done before!

Honey! This night, they would feast !