Seventh graders inspired by lesson of harsh life in Sudan

Mar 13, 2019

Some seventh graders at Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts created note cards to sell to raise money for a water project in South Sudan. WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley visited the school's art room where the students talked about their work.  

Seventh graders show the note cards they created after learning about Sudan.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Students gathered in front of a large stainless steel sink inside the classroom which has water for them to wash up from their art projects. For them, it stands as a symbol of access to water. Art teacher Rachel Lyons says students recently read the book Long Walk to Water in their English class. It's a novel based on the real story of boy from Sudan, Salva Dut, who now lives nearby in Rochester.

Student uses the art room sink to wash up from projects.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

“It follows his path as a refugee and a child that was torn apart from his family at 11 because of the war in Sudan. He ended up in refugee camps. He had to walk a lot and once he ended up in Rochester in the United States, he ended up creating a foundation called Water for South Sudan that goes back to the Sudan and builds wells,” Lyons explained.

BAVPA Art teacher Rachel Lyons works with her students in the art room.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Lyons guided a small group of eight students on the special art project.

“They each had a map of their own house. We printed individual maps and they sort of marked the resources on their individual map and we layered those and then we alternated layers of that with the information that we are learning about the Sudan – about the war and about the resources and the climate and all those things,” Lyons remarked.

The students’ abstract style artwork of colorful maps and information of Sudan were printed on note cards to sell. Andrew Middlebrooks said it is a useful project that will support the difficult lives of those living in Sudan.   

Student note cards.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

When asked what the biggest lesson Middlebrooks learned from the project, he said it is to be grateful. 

“I honestly have to say I would have not known about that until now and I’m personally really glad that I now know about that so we can start to donate money to Sudan,” Middlebrooks said.

Students learned about how the African nation is war-torn from civil unrest. Nicholas Maldonado said they want to raise money for the Water for South Sudan Project. 

BAVPA seventh graders were inspired by lesson of harsh life in Sudan.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

“They don’t have much resources and not enough farming because normally they have to use bulls like we used to in the olden days,” Maldonado said.

One by one students lined up to tell more about what the learned. Jordi Paulk said those living in Sudan are often forced to drink dirty water.

“What is it like to know you have water right here in your classroom – you can access, yet they don’t have that?” Buckley asked. “We get clean water and they get dirty,” replied Paulk.

Students Mikel Darden and Antoneo Thompson also talked about the lack of water and how women in the African nation spend hours trying to find clean water in harsh conditions.

“It was talking about worms in the water thing. It looks so dirty – so brown,” Darden responded.

“There was a war at the beginning of the story and Salva ran,” Thompson recalled about the book. 

7th grader shows off the note cards created by students.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Students are selling packages of five note cards for five dollars. So far they have raised $365. They’re hoping that their classroom artwork lesson will be a small part of someday bringing clear water to Sudan. Teacher Lyons said if you are interested in buying the note cards email her at rlyons@buffaloschools.org.