A Long Walk to a New Well
by Leslie Vreeland
Oct 27, 2011 | 501 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
TELLURIDE – It started as a classroom assignment: a book about the “Lost Boys” of Sudan – children separated from their families by war and forced to travel thousands of miles on their own. Tina Greene, a Telluride Middle School teacher who worked in the Peace Corps in Namibia, had her students read A Long Walk to Water; in the book, some of the Lost Boys were the same age as first graders. Greene’s older students were so inspired, they decided to create a play for the first-grade class. Now the students are taking it a step further: this Friday, Oct. 28, the middle schoolers will lead the first-graders on a two-mile walk to raise money to build a well for schoolchildren in South Sudan.

Greene says the inspiration and the organization for the play and the trek all came from the kids. So as much as she can, “I’m leaving it in their hands.” The decision to walk regardless of weather – temperatures are forecast to dip below 20 degrees in Telluride on Thursday night – was deliberate. “We went for a cold day, to show solidarity” with Sudanese schoolchildren, who often endure much more in the way of discomfort than this, Greene explains. The two-mile walk’s length is long enough to be challenging for five-year-old legs. The eight-graders will walk two loops, to make it challenging for them, as well.

A Long Walk is based on the true story of Sudanese Lost Boy Salva Dut. Dut eventually made his way to the U.S., where he started Water for Sudan, a non-profit group that drills wells in one of the poorest countries on earth. Since its inception in 2004, WFS has drilled over 100 wells, bringing fresh drinking water to over 200,000 Sudanese; Telluride students have contributed to the organization in recent years. “They are familiar with us,” Greene said. The hope is that this well will be the start of a beautiful friendship: “We would like to have cultural contact with the Sudanese students.” Earlier this year, Greene, who brings her experience in Africa to the classroom, assigning her students reading material like Cry, the Beloved Country, asked them a provocative question: which is the more precious resource, hope or water? Water is, replied one student, because “It gives us strength to hope.” Another student disagreed: “Water may keep us alive, but hope keeps us going.” On Friday, hope will keep these students going on their own long walk .

If you’d like to join the Walk for Water, it begins at 9:15 a.m. at the Telluride Middle/High School parking lot; the older kids will start their own trek around 10:15 a.m. If you’re not an early riser, but would like to learn more and perhaps make a donation, you can convene with the kids, post-trek, at the Middle School around 11:30 a.m. To learn more about Water for Sudan, go to www.waterforsudan.org.
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