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Clifford Wise Students Inspired By Book To Raise Money for a Well in Sudan

Wise Raised Money for a Well in Sudan


Fifth grade students at Clifford Wise Intermediate School are taking action to bring clean water to the Sudan after reading a book based on Salva Dut’s life.  His story, A Long Walk to Water, was told by New York Times bestselling author Linda Sue Park. 


Mr. Sut was born in a rural village in southwestern Sudan in the Dinka tribe.  When he was 11 years old, the Sudanese Civil War reached his village and separated Salva from his family.  He and thousands of other boys were known as the Lost Boys of Sudan.  They sought refuge in Ethiopia and Kenya by walking thousands of miles by foot where he faced many hardships and dangers.  After living in a refugee camp for ten years, he moved to Rochester, New York and was sponsored and embraced by a family there who wanted to help him have a better life.  He eventually returned to Sudan to reunite with his father, who was ill from waterborne parasites.  His father’s illness inspired him to bring clean water to the people in his country by establishing a foundation that installs deep-water wells in remote villages in dire need of clean water. 


Teachers Deb Weber (Social Studies) and Michelle Gerdes (Science) talked about the story with their students and the how the lack of clean water impacted their lives.  “It was a big surprise to our students that they couldn’t go to a faucet and turn on the water,” says Weber.  “It was eye-opening for them that people would have to walk for miles to get a bucket of water and this is how they had to live.” “I felt it was a very touching subject,” says student Erin.  “It’s important to remember not everyone has it as good as you.”


Gerdes says the students talked about the book and Salva’s mission for weeks in class.  “We really went into the scarcity of water and how these people’s lives and health were impacted.  It obviously really touched the students because we would hear them talking about it on their way to lunch and wanting to know what could they do to help.”  One student, James, said he enjoyed reading the book.  “I liked it and knew I wanted to do something to help the people of Sudan.”  His schoolmate Noah says more people should read the book.  “I think it would inspire them and make them aware of what the people in Sudan are going through and how much they need clean water.”  The students’ passion for the book inspired other fifth grade teachers to read the book in class. 


A foundation called Water for South Sudan, which is based in Rochester, raises money that supports the population of the country to access clean water and afford communities additional educational and economic opportunities.  The Medina students decided to bring attention to that cause by posting posters around the school and setting up pails and boxes for their schoolmates and community members to donate to.  “The kids came together as a team and assigned different jobs to one another to promote this charity,” says Gerdes.  “Some made posters, some wrote and spoke at announcements each morning about the fundraising efforts.  They wanted to make a difference.”  Student Kailana says she was very inspired to help the foundation.  “I made posters to put around the school.  I have also been saving my change and bringing it in to donate.  My mother said I could take her change as well to help with our fundraiser.”


The students’ efforts raised over $300 for the foundation.  Both Weber and Gerdes say they are incredibly proud of the students and the efforts they made for this worthwhile cause that will change the fate of so many in the Sudan.