(2016) For the past two years, ROTA has been contacted by a variety of Public Middle Schools all of whom are reading “A Long Walk to Water” by Linda Sue Park. The book features the true life story of Salva Dut who became one of the “Lost Boys of the Sudan.” He endured many hardships, armed attacks by military forces, wild animals, starvation and yet survived to tell his story. ROTA was invited first by our friend and school principal Mark Membretti at East Aurora Middle School. Accompanying Mrs. Joan Ersing and myself was one of the three “Lost Boys” who reside in the Buffalo area.
Special thanks to “Lost Boys” Mathon Noi and Fidele Dhan who have assisted us with the presentations. After the introductions we expose the youth to some cultural differences and provide exercises that assist them to understand the struggles for survival by many children their age in many tribes and villages. A short video helps to retell the history and plight of the “Lost Boys” as well as the challenges of adjustment to 21st Century America. Our “Lost Boy” guest is then introduced taking time to make comments and share their own story about what they also had to endure on their own particular journey. The youth had opportunities to write down questions and many are fascinated just to have the opportunity to meet someone who knew “Salva Dut” and as a “Lost Boy” themselves endured similar struggles.
Thankfully the presentations are not the end of the story. Each school thus far: East Aurora Middle School (For two consecutive years), Cleveland Hill Middle, and West Seneca EAST Middle, along with our good friends at Our Lady of Black Rock School have done targeted fundraising. With these funds we have been able to connect our local schools with schools in southern Uganda and use the funding to provide clean water tanks that assist in the health and welfare of all the students. Pictured are students from the Kinyerere Primary and Namagoma Schools in Uganda.. A special “Thank You” to the students, teachers, and administrators who have allowed us to facilitate connecting our local schools with others much in need of their support for survival and success.