Water flows in South Sudan, with Merrick students' help

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She also said that she has come to appreciate the luxuries that life in a developed country often offers. “We never really thought about water as something that was hard to find,” Wasserman said. “You use it every day, like brushing your teeth and everything … But now once you read the book and see how these people struggle to get water, you realize that some people don’t have it as easy as we do, and you learn to use less of things and save them.”

In June 2012, shortly after Molloy donated her classes’ earnings to WFSS, she and they received a surprise. Dut was so impressed by what the students had done that he wanted to talk with them. Park, who turned Dut’s story into a children’s novel, heard about their efforts from him and a letter from Molloy, and she too wanted to talk with the students, even waiving her usual $400 speaker’s fee.

Shortly before the students’ graduation day, they spoke face-to-face — via Skype — with both the main character and author of “Long Walk.” Dut and Park elaborated on conditions in South Sudan and expressed their gratitude for the classes’ donations.

“In the book, [Dut] had so many struggles, but when we saw him, he was smiling,” Rosen said. “He was just so happy that we were able to do this.”

Molloy called the students’ experience “empowering.” “They got to see that they could make something happen that was outside of the box they usually live their life in,” she said.

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