A Long Walk to Water

Chapter 11

Souther Sudan, 2008

Nya's Story

After the two men left the village, the task of clearing more of the land between the tress began.  It was very hard work.  The smaller trees and bushes had to be burned or pulled out of the ground.  The long grass had to be cut down.  It was dangerou work, too, as poisinous snakes and scorpions hid in the grass.  

Nya was still making the two daily trips to the pond.  Each time she returned, she could see that slowly but surely the patch of clearned earth was growing larger.

The earth was dry and rock-hard.  Nya felt puzzled and doubtful; how could there be water in ground this dry? 

Southern Sudan and Ethiopia, 1985

They buried Uncle in a hole that was two feet deep, a hole that had already been made by some kind of animal.  Out of respect for him, the group walked no more that day but took time to mourn the man who had been their leader

Salva was too numb to think, and when thoughts did come to him, they seemed silly. The time for grief was short, and the walking began again soon after dark.  Despite the numbness in his heart, Salva was amazed to find himself walking faster and more boldly than he had before.  

Mariel was gone and Uncle was dead.  But Salva knew that even though they were gone they would have wanted Salva to keep going and to never give up.  

Salva thought that this feeling must be why he was able to keep walking even faster than before.  Beneath his terrible sadness he felt stronger.  

Now that Uncle was gone no one in the group looked out for Salva.  They did not share food with him and they did not treat him well.  However, instead of letting this get him down, Salva used it as motivation.  It made him stronger.  Salva thought to himself, 

 They think I am weak and useless. There is no one left to help me. Salva lifted his head proudly, They are wrong and I will prove it. 


Salva arrived at the Itang Refugee Camp in Ethiopia.  He had never seen so many people before in his life.  There were people standing, sitting, crouching, kneeling, and waiting in lines.  It was filled with people of all ages, men, women, girls, small children....but most of the refugees were boys and young men  who had run away from their villages when the war had come, just like him.

Children who arrived at the refugee camp without their families were grouped together, so Salva was separated at once from the rest of the group he had been traveling with.  Now he was with more strangers. 

As Salva walked through the camp with several other boys, he looked closely at every face he passed.  Salva was looking for his family.  He thought to himself If they are here, I wil find them

Salva felt a little strange to be staying in one place.  He was so used to getting up and walking everyday.  The camp was safe from the war and he was even given food, but it still felt strange.