They had only read about him in a book. But on Oct. 11, 2017 more than 300 Rochester-area middle school students actually met former Lost Boy Salva Dut, Monroe Community College (MCC) alumnus, founder of Water for South Sudan, and protagonist of Linda Sue Park’s internationally renowned book, “A Long Walk to Water.” An estimated 15,000 students and teachers—representing 512 schools from 33 states and five countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Israel and New Zealand—tuned in via live stream video. This is the fourth time MCC Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Project (HGHRP) student leaders have hosted “conversation sessions” with Dut and Park, creating an unforgettable learning experience that shows how reading can help change the world. But they weren’t done yet.
Later that same week, MCC’s HGHRP held its 10th annual Walk for Water for South Sudan. The organization that Dut founded has drilled 304 wells in South Sudan to prevent disease and stabilize villages — and lives. However, hundreds of thousands of Sudanese—mostly women and children—still walk for hours daily to access a non-contaminated drinking source. The water they drink is often contaminated with parasites and bacteria and, as a result, disease runs rampant throughout greater East Africa. “The challenge is enormous to those of us who uphold the sanctity of human life and the moral imperative to provide water to the thirsty,” said Dut, who is a member of MCC’s Alumni Hall of Fame. “Fresh water is an absolute requirement for a community’s health. It is a stable developmental platform on which a community can build its future. It is, in short, life.” Since the inception of the annual walk, MCC students have helped raise more than $60,000. Four wells in South Sudan bear MCC’s name.
For additional information on this annual Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Project, please contact Jodi Oriel, director, HGHRP at: 585.292. 2533 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
CAPTION: Local middle school students flocked around Salva Dut, anxious to meet the person they were first introduced to in Author Linda Sue Park’s award-winning book, “A Long Walk to Water.”
Sarah Petrak is a student assistant with the Office of Communications and New Media for SUNY System Administration. She is a studying Public Policy at the University at Albany.