Three Places Where “A Long Walk to Water” is Happening Today
In rural, developing parts of the globe, young girls and women walk for hours to fill their containers with contaminated drinking water.
Author Linda Sue Park narrates this journey for water in her children’s book, A Long Walk to Water.
While telling the story of Nya, a young girl in search of water, Park narrates the journey of Salva, a young boy fleeing war-torn Sudan. Salva grows into someone passionate about making a difference in his country, and he returns years later to build wells for rural families like Nya’s.
Park’s telling of a little girl on her walk for water is a reality for many young girls and women in remote areas of the developing world. In a 2016 report, the World Health Organization found that rural families are three times as likely as their urban neighbors to walk far distances for water.
Read the real stories of families globally and learn how, like Salva, we can all make a difference.
Tadu’s Long Walk to Water, Ethiopia
Eight-year-old Tadu carries two jerry cans full of water from a contaminated spring half a mile from her family’s home in Qoqose Anidi village, Ethiopia.
Each day in Qoqose Anidi village, she and her older sister shoulder the responsibility of collecting water while their parents work on their small farm. Tadu’s school is two miles away, and on the days that she can go, she is exhausted from carrying the heavy containers of water.
“When I collect water before school, I am sometimes late to my lesson,” she said. “I do not do well on my exams.”
Tadu is kind, smart, and wishes to be a doctor when she grows up. But, she misses her classes often, sometimes for weeks at a time to recover from water-related illness.
Like Nya’s younger sister in A Long Walk to Water, Tadu’s five siblings also suffer from drinking the water, and her parents pay expensive medical fees to cover the cost of treatment.
“I wish to get safe water in our village as well as in my school,” she said.
Enid’s Long Walk to Water, Uganda
To the south of Ethiopia is a village called Rwibale Moja in Uganda. Since Enid Kyomutungi’s husband passed three years ago, she’s bravely raised all six of her children on her own. She grows bananas, beans, and corn on her farm.
Enid and her children walk four miles to collect water from a natural spring, and it can take them over three hours. When the spring dries up each year, they walk even farther. Like Nya, they spend the daylight hours treading the familiar dirt path to gather contaminated water.
Despite their water challenges, five of her six children are attending school. China, 4, isn’t old enough for school yet. When Enid needs help with the water during the dry season, her children miss up to three days of school per week to gather water from faraway ponds.
“They have big dreams. I can see it in their eyes, so I keep them in school as much as I can,” she said. “They give me so much hope.”
The profit from Enid’s farm is only $21.29 per harvest season, and the cost of treatment for water-related illnesses is always more. The doctor at the local clinic treats her children on credit, knowing that Enid will pay once her next harvest is ready.
The medical costs from the contaminated water have put Enid in mounting debt. Safe water can change everything for her family.
Sloan’s Long Walk to Water, Cambodia
Sloan and her two small children are playful. She kisses her son’s nose and he hides it in his sleeve.
Right now, Sloan and her husband are too poor to send their children to school in Soeng Pir village, Cambodia. The unsafe water from this spring makes them sick, and the cost for treatment uses up all their money.
Each day, Sloan takes a two-hour trip to fetch water from a contaminated spring that her village uses for drinking, washing, and cooking.
Although both Sloan and her husband are hard workers, they are trapped in poverty.
Their unsafe water adds to this poverty, spreading illnesses that are expensive to treat. Sometimes, they don’t have any money for treatment, and their children must go without. In A Long Walk to Water, families in Nya’s village often go without treatment, and it can cost them their lives.
One time, on her two-hour walk for water, Sloan slipped on the trail and sprained her knee. A neighbor helped her get home, and she was unable to work for a while.
Sloan and her husband dream of a better life for their family.
“We have to drink this water because there is no other choice,” she said. “But one day I want my children to go to school and have a good job.”
In A Long Walk to Water, Salva helped provide families the opportunity to live healthy, drink safe water, and send their children to school.
Author Park narrates the moment Nya drank from the fresh water and met Salva:
“The water was delicious. It wasn’t warm or muddy, like the water from the pond. It was cool and clear… [She] looked up at him bravely. ‘Thank you for bringing the water.’”
When you help bring clean water to a village on lifewater.org, you’ve helping children get to school. You’re freeing families from water-related illness and helping them become all that God created them to be.