Yesterday Lia handed me a book and said "Grandma, I think that you really should read this book. It is really good and it made mom cry." Now when an eleven year old gives you a book recommendation, there is most likely a very good reason. I am a "reader". You know, one of those people who reads for pleasure and really enjoys it. This book was included in Lia's home school curriculum and Lia and Gwen had read it together.
I started reading the book while the kids were doing their school work and finished just after Gwen got home. The book is a true story (in part) and fictionalized (in part) that tells a story that everyone should hear. The "main character" is Salva Dut, a member of the Dinka tribe and a Sudanese Lost Boy. This book is his story of being forced out of his home in Sudan during a civil war and the journey of his life. Side by side the author also tells the story of a young girl from a rival tribe in the Sudan and her struggle to provide water for her family. The girl represents an amalgam of girls from that tribe. Although this part of the story is fiction, it is based on truth and facts. Because I want you all to read this book, I will not share the share the ending. The author has done such a wonderful job with this book, that both Gwen and I were totally stunned by the ending. We never saw it coming. I can assure you, it will make you cry.
I have not been able to get this book out of my head since I put it down. I knew a bit about the Lost Boys of Sudan. Over the years I have read accounts of these boys, who were brought to the United States out of refugee camps in Kenya. I remember that there were some of these boys brought to a boarding school very near to my home. The newsworthy part of the story was a fight over whether or not they would be allowed to play basketball (which they excelled at) and the school was accused of "recruiting" them specifically for basketball. In the end, it was determined that the placement of these boys had nothing to do with sports, but was simply humanitarian. This book about Salva Dut is special because of who Salva is. The kinds of adversity that he overcame and his strength and determination to go on are awe inspiring. I was impressed with him before he ever made it to the United States.
His journey was all about being reunited with his family. He was separated from them because he was at school when the battle started and he was forced to flee without ever knowing what became of his family. On every leg of his twisted path to New York, he was thinking about finding his family. By the time he arrived in New York, he is certain that his entire family was killed in the war. Yet he persevered and finished his education and got a college degree (with the help of his sponsor family in New York). I don't know how many miles he walked on his journey of exile, but he never gave up. He just kept walking.
I am so thankful that Lia has read this book. The story of the girl who walked miles for water everyday is important. The reality that 1.8 BILLION people do not have access to clean water is staggering. This book brought that reality to life through an 11 year old girl's perspective. If Lia had just read the part of the book about this girl and the lack of water, it might have seemed like such a hopeless situation. (Spoiler Alert) Instead, there is an actual, genuine answer to that 11 year old girls situation, because of one strong, determined boy, who kept on walking.
I am hopeful that Lia will continue to be moved by this book. She has been praying for something that she could support that would really make a difference. And I believe that helping to bring water to those without access is making a difference that counts!
If you would like to actually listen to Salva telling his story in a Ted Talk just click this link. There are many other YouTube videos also that tell more about this story. You can just search his name. Don't miss reading the book. Even when you know the story, it is so worth reading. The book is available on Amazon. More than that, make sure that all of those middle schoool/high school kids you know, read this book. There are so many lessons for life contained in these pages.
So I am ending today, so thankful for the clean, clear water that flows freely out of spigots and spouts in my home. I am seeing so much more in my glass than I did before I read this book. I am seeing God's plan to use some children to change a small part of the world by bringing life giving water to the people. What an amazing testimony of God's handiwork and a picture of the flowing water of the Holy Spirit that brings eternal life to all who believe in Jesus!
Jesus, thank you for this book and for Salva Dut. Continue to bless him as he works to bring clean water to South Sudan. Holy Spirit, instill in us the courage and boldness to keep walking, especially when it seems impossible. Remind us all to see blessing in clean water. Thank you for Lia and her desire to make a difference that counts! Amen