At the recommendation of a favorite teacher, I picked up A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park for the kids at the library.
It is based on the true story of one of the lost boys of Sudan, who leaves his village during an attack. He is separated from his family and left to wander Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya for the next several years. He eventually learns English and becomes one of a handful chosen to go to the United States. His story of survival is inspiring and hopeful, as he now uses his energy and resources in America to dig wells for communities in Sudan.
The author parallels his story with a young girl’s journey of walking every morning and every afternoon to collect water for her family. It is her entire life’s occupation as it takes all morning to bring one container and all afternoon to bring a second. When water comes to her village, her entire life is changed and she can go to school.
The way the stories run alongside each other and then meet at the end at a new well is beautiful.
Also significant to me was that at one point the main character is in a refugee camp reminiscing about his life in his village with his family, and he says that on special occasions his father would ride to a town and bring back beans and rice.
Beans and rice were his special foods.
Right now for a season of time, our family is eating beans and rice for lunch and dinner every day as a part of a project in which I am taking part. I have complained not just a little bit about being tired of beans and rice. It was humbling to remember that for many, many in the world, the addition of beans and rice to a table is special. Celebratory.
I loved Linda Sue Park’s writing so I also picked up her Newberry award winning book, A Single Shard. In the opening scenes of the book, a homeless boy in Korea follows a man down a path who has a small hole in his rice bag. He stops and picks up each grain of rice that has dropped, and as he is collecting them he says to himself, We will have a feast tonight!
Rice is a feast.
Beans are a special occasion.
I love that I am getting this much needed reminder from a couple of books I picked up for my kids.