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Salva Dut was one of the “Lost Boys of Sudan”. At 11 years old he was forced out of his village by the civil war between north and south in Sudan. He and thousands of other boys walked thousands of miles across the desert, facing attacks by lions, crocodiles and soldiers, and death by starvation and lack of water. Salva found his way to refugee camps where he lived for ten years. Eventually he was resettled in the US, where he started the nonprofit organization Water for South Sudan, which has been drilling water wells in South Sudan for over 10 years. Salva shares how with faith, hope and persistence he kept walking throughout his life. This allowed him to accomplish a great deal, and he encourages all to keep walking, even in the face of great challenges.

After Sudan’s civil war in 1985, many fled. Among those who fled through barren, war-torn southern desert were 17,000 children, mostly boys, some as young as five. They became known as “The Lost Boys of Sudan.” Salva Dut was one of those boys. As an 11-year old Dinka from southwest Sudan, Salva fled first to Ethiopia. Then later, as a teenager, he led 1,500 “Lost Boys” thousands of miles through the Southern Sudan desert to the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. Only 1,000 survived.


About the Speaker

Salva Dut

Salva Dut

Salva Dut is the Founder and Executive Director for East African Operations of Water for South Sudan, Inc. In 1985 he was one of 17,000 “Lost Boys of Sudan” who fled that country’s southern region during Sudan’s two-decade long civil war and, after over a decade of struggling to survive, was fortunate to receive a visa to move to the U.S. in 1996.

In 2002, after thinking that his family had died in the war, Salva learned his father was alive but seriously ill. He managed to return to Sudan to reunite with his father who was suffering from water-borne disease. This reconnection, both with his father and the desperate living conditions of the South Sudanese people, Salva was motivated to found Water for South Sudan. It has become Salva’s life mission.

Salva became an American citizen and studied International Business in Rochester, N.Y. while working as president and drilling manager of Water for South Sudan, Inc. After his nation’s independence in 2011, he moved back to South Sudan and now oversees Water for South Sudan’s operations there. He is the subject of the New York Times best-selling book by Linda Sue Park, A Long Walk to Water, that is read by young people around the world.

For more information visit www.waterforsouthsudan.org.