Salva Dut – His Tremendous Story, Book, and NGO

Salva Dut is a Sudanese-American known for being one of the primary inspirations for A Long Walk To Water, and Founder of the NGO, Water for South Sudan.

Tell us about growing up in Sudan. As a boy, what would you do on a daily basis?

Growing up, I didn’t have much. Basically, just my clothes. But even that wasn’t always available and sometimes and I would go naked. We didn’t have running water. No electricity. I lived in a simple patch grass house. Feeding was poor because there often just wasn’t enough to eat. However, I was lucky because my father was able to put me in school. He also had cows and a few cheap goods that we could sell to make money. It wasn’t great, but I was very happy.

When you were 11-years-old, you were forced to leave your home to escape the war. What was that like? Can you tell us about something that was particularly scary?

It was terrifying to be running away from the war. One night, I lost my good friend due to an attack from the wildlife. He was my aid mate. Since I was the young one I thought I was going to be the next victim.  Later, I lost my uncle. Because he was from the Dinka tribe, he was tied to a tree and shot right in front of me. That was so bad because he was the main person taking care of me. Following this, the people I was with told me that if I cried anymore or didn’t walk fast enough they would abandon me because it was causing a distraction. That was very hard, but it made me stronger. Despite all that, the hardest part was constantly wanting to go back home to see my parents.

Now you’ve started the NGO, Water for South Sudan. What kind of impact have you had so far?

According to our assessment, we’ve had truly great impact. Before there were any wells, so many terrible things were happening. Water borne diseases were killing people. There was no stability. People were walking for hours a day in search of water. There were no schools, no clinics, no markets because there was no water. Now that we have built over 250 wells in different villages, water is available and all of these things have changed. It has created peace. Also, when you do something like this for these people, they realize it has changed their life and they take good care of it.

Last weekend, you took a couple minutes to play the Pandoo Nation Rescue Camp game. What was your initial reaction?

When you first told me about it, I thought it was going to be a simple thing for a 1-year-old child. But then when I sat there and played, it was amazing. It was very educational. Completely. It makes you think. It was a flashback to what I’m doing in the real world – water, medicine, etc. It was great!