Letter to the editor: Ridgefield fifth-graders organize ‘Walk to Water’ to support Sudan

A flood of fifth grade students from Scotland Elementary School joined together on a fundraising mission to build a well in South Sudan. The kids are finally ready to introduce their newest, biggest and final fundraiser, “A Walk to Water.”

At 8 a.m., Saturday, May 14, they are inviting community members to walk a two-mile route from the St. Mary’s School to the Cass Gilbert Fountain in Ridgefield. This will be a symbolic walk to represent the 40 billion hours women in Africa spend each year walking to find clean water.

The students were inspired after they read “A Long Walk to Water” by Linda Sue Park. In the book, a fictional character named Nya, and a real life boy named Salva struggle to survive in South Sudan without water. When further researching Salva Dut, the students discovered as an adult he founded an organization named Water for South Sudan. Elissa Rowley, development and communications coordinator for the nonprofit, spoke with the students about the organization’s mission to deliver sustainable services to the people of South Sudan by providing access to clean and safe water through digging and maintaining wells.

In many Sudanese communities, drinking, cooking and bathing water comes from ponds. Often, this surface water can be contaminated with bacteria and parasites. The benefits to building wells and bringing filtered groundwater to South Sudanese families include improved sanitation, health, hygiene and food access. In addition, girls can go to school instead of walking an average of 3.7 miles per day to gather water for their families.

Salva Dut reminds us, “We are one people no matter what. We have to work together. When I go back and see all these positive changes, I feel good.” It is that “good” feeling that Scotland fifth-graders want to bring to the Ridgefield Public School district community as they invite them to participate in the Walk to Water event.

To register or donate, visit https://sites.google.com/ridgefieldps.net/waterforeveryone/home.

Bradan S. Janso is an 11-year-old fifth-grader at Scotland Elementary School.