SDMS Students Participate In Second Annual Sudan Water Walk

SDMS Students Participate In Second Annual Sudan Water Walk
Students are pictured this week with their handmade flags they carried during Stephen Decatur Middle School’s Water Walk Wednesday. Photo by Charlene Sharpe

BERLIN – Local students spent the day walking Wednesday to raise awareness — and funding — for well building in South Sudan.

Students at Stephen Decatur Middle School carried flags and jugs of water as they walked around the building Wednesday at the school’s second annual Water Walk. The event was created to help raise money for Water for South Sudan, an organization that has built more than 300 wells throughout the country to provide residents with safe drinking water.

“It means a lot to the people in South Sudan,” seventh-grader Kameron Harris said.

The school held its first Water Walk last year after students read “A Long Walk to Water,” a book by Linda Sue Park that includes the true story of Salva Dut. Dut became one of the “lost boys” of Sudan when war separated him from his family.

“It’s about a refugee from South Sudan,” said teacher Michelle Hammond. “He got educated here (in the U.S.) and decided to go back and build wells.”

Hammond, who teaches integrated language arts, said the book opened students’ eyes to the effects of civil war and the water shortage in the African country, where women and children can trek up to eight hours a day to get water. When students asked Hammond how they could help, she found Water for South Sudan.

“They said to organize a walk,” she said.

And so she did. Last year students raised $9,000 in donations leading up to the Water Walk. Though that wasn’t enough to pay for the entire cost of building a well—a project that costs about $15,000—students were able to raise roughly $10,000 this year.

“We finished the well we started last year,” Hammond said Wednesday.

Though the walk was inspired by Park’s book, it has become a cross curricular event, as students in science class study water in the weeks leading up to it and students in social studies learn about Africa.

As they walked with jugs of water and waved flags advertising the well campaign, students were excited to be raising awareness.

“We’re walking for people in South Sudan,” student Heaven Handy said. “To realize how they feel and also to educate people.”

She said raising money to support well building was a good way for the younger generation to help combat a global problem.

“One small thing at a time can change the world,” Handy said.

Hammond said the school was grateful for the community’s support of the fundraiser and hopes it can be held again in the future.

“It’s really nice because this has united our school and community,” she said.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.