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Fourth Graders Inspire Community through Iron Giraffe Challenge; Create Ripples of Change

Fourth Graders Inspire Community through Iron Giraffe Challenge; Create Ripples of Change

When given the chance, nine-year-olds can change the world. We had a powerful reminder of that just earlier this month. But first, a little back story.

Last year, our 4th-grade classes read an important book, A Long Walk to Water. This New York Times Bestseller follows the true story of Salva Dut, one of the lost boys of South Sudan, from the moment he escaped his war-torn village, through his journey on foot to the refugee camps in Ethiopia, and eventually in Kenya. After several years living with over 90,000 other refugees in Kenya, he was selected to move to the United States, where he learned English and went to Business school. Dut founded the Water for South Sudan organization, which provides access to clean, safe water, and improves hygiene and sanitation practices for people in need in South Sudan. Inspired by Dut’s story of courage and resilience, one of the 4th-grade Spanish classes joined the Iron Giraffe Challenge, a fundraising effort for the organization. As part of the challenge, the class entered the drawing to win one of several prizes - and…drumroll, please…. among 194 schools, won the grand prize of Salva visiting ISDenver in person! 

On Wednesday, September 13, Salva Dut and Water for South Sudan Executive Director Lynn Malooly made their long-anticipated visit. It was an incredible visit and will likely be a core memory for all our students as they work to make the world a more compassionate and curious place. The teacher of the award-winning class that guided the students through the process, Nadia Sobhani, shared:

Personally, Salva Dut’s visit to our school was a highlight of my teaching career. His humility and depth of knowledge for his work in South Sudan, his ability to overcome difficulties and give back to the villages in his country of origin, has left a lasting impact on my heart. My family is moved by his stories but is especially inspired to be of service to our neighbors and local community.

Nadia Sobhani


There’s so much we have learned from Salva’s visit. Kate, one of our students, reflected on her experience:

Salva’s visit had an impact on me because when I heard about his life, compared to ours, I realized how privileged we are. I need to appreciate what I have. I am so grateful for this fundraiser, so I could meet Salva in person and learn from him!

Jude said, “I thought it was incredible that Salva went through so much heartache and challenges, and decided to spend his life giving back. He is one of the most humble heroes I have ever met!”

Ashe reflected,

It was a good idea to build wells because it helps the villages. I am very happy Salva came to visit and I hope ISD fundraises again.

Salva’s final words for each group of students left a lasting impact on our school community. Salva said: “We are all one, let peace be at the center of our lives”.  He concluded with a powerful message: “If you face any hardships, look forward. Keep walking and keep the faith.”

Salva and Lynn, thank you for your most important work. To our students, thank you for showing us what agency looks like in action. You give us all hope for peace and a brighter future. Salva, we hope that one day we will be able to visit your beautiful country of South Sudan! 


I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples. Mother Teresa




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