SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 237: “Do What Is Right Rather Than What Is Expected”

In a small park far away from persecution, in a community unaffected by hunger and thirst, and with a group of families who in most respects have led a life not in need of the basic necessities, is found a spring of compassion.

A fountain of humanity that pours forth via no means of engineering or powered by any aquifer; but, rather an unstoppable source of outreach that flows through the minds and efforts of a special group of children this day.

A congregation of tomorrow’s leaders for a new world… and today, a gathering of what I have to refer to as, “My hero’s.”

“Where might we be?” you ask.

It’s our weekly park day, a day, where throughout the school year, fifty or more families gather in coming together in unity and education; a group of much diversity and life histories, yet today a group that has joined in one objective, to raise money to build wells in Sudan.

The brainchild not of the adults in this weekly community, but a project conceived by the very children (most of whom are under twelve years of age) we as adult are raising and chaperoning this day.

They have titled the day, “Walk for Water,” in doing their best to emulate the conditions that the children in Sudan suffer as they walk over two hours, up to twice a day, carrying water to their villages. Water that at many times is unclean and diseased.

So to be part of an assembly of not only informed, but well-researched children, who have all bonded together to do works of good is quite inspiring.

For reference, here are a few statistics on the water crises in Sudan:
• 12.3 million people only have access to contaminated water
• 30% of the rural population and 40% of the urban population have clean drinking water
• Only 5% of Khartoum’s population has access to a central sewage system
• Only 20% of rural dwellers have some form of sanitation services (usually pit latrines)

All facts that many of today’s walkathon kids know, and facts that are the result of following the first inspiration to organize this fund-raising event, the works of Salva Dut, a man featured in Linda Sue Park’s novel “A Long Walk To Water.”

Dut’s history in itself is cause for applause, but the important celebration this day is the walkathon that is occurring in his behalf. Uncountable numbers of children have pledged, even found sponsors to contribute dollars to the distances that they have committed to in carrying gallons of symbolic water. Water ranging in weight from one-half gallon to three gallons; water that they have pledged to feel the weight of for four miles of park laps; water that with blistered hands they unceasingly move forward in tribute in raise money to send to the Water for South Sudan Foundation.

A foundation that, as the brainchild of Dut, has one major goal: To save lives, build communities and to give rest and health to the many families and children of Sudan. Families and children who on a regular basis must trek a path that is not optional; but, fundamentally required for their literal existence.

I call these kids, “My hero’s.”

There is one child who grabs my attention, I young boy (he’s about six, for hours he has been dedicated to the weight of one gallon. I question the source of his tenacity, and in doing so; I have the privilege of meeting his mum… and fellow Brit, Jessica.

In Jessica’s opening words I quickly understand the origins of the special charisma that this young child so gracefully strides with, it’s a reflection of his parent’s outlook.

“Do what is right rather than what is expected,” Jessica challenges.

And although Jessica shares her sentiment with the humblest of tones, I take the liberty to upgrade her thoughts to a challenge, “You don’t have that opportunity every day of your life, every moment is an opportunity, and someone is always watching,” Jessica expands as she give credit to whom she refers to as her ultimate teacher… Jesus Christ.

Now here is her key to embracing the world, “Know that you are loved. And that love is a divine love just for you, and in that, there is a divine purpose in knowing god and being known by god.”

I’m sure we have all had our moments of feeling alone, or have got caught up in the fury of life’s pace and influences. Jessica refers to it as the machine in suggesting a self-reflection for us all, “Most of us have figured out that the machine does not satisfy…” she encourages.

“…And to make decisions based not on ones own good, but sacrificially for the good of others, this is the greatest of freedoms.

The way the world is currently heading is dangerous. We have to be careful not to live a life based on what we do… or on what we want, instead of living a life based on what we can give.

We can never know what is good for everyone else. That is judgment. God’s plan is to prosper us… not harm us.

 So if we listen to what the God of love wants for others, then through us, He can give it.

It is not about us knowing what is the best for those around us, it is about our ability to listen.”

As stated by Dep Tuany, Former Vice President, Water for South Sudan, 2009 – 2010, Regardless of your cultural, tribal and religious belief, it all about humanity.”

Jessica, thank you for uplifting us with your faith in humanity. We will do our best to honor you.