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It costs a lot of money to build a well in Africa -- a lot more than Ryan Hreljac had thought. Still, the six year old kept doing chores around his parents' house, even after he learned it could take him years to earn enough money. Then a friend of the family wrote an article in the local newspaper about Ryan's wish to build a well to supply people with safe, clean water. Before long, ripples of goodwill began spreading. People started sending money to help pay for Ryan's well. Ryan was interviewed on television. His dream of a well became an international news story. In Agweo, Uganda, villagers were used to walking a long way every day in search of water. What they found was often brown and smelly and made a lot of people sick. But when Ryan's well was built, life in the village changed for the better. A young orphan named Akana Jimmy longed for a chance to thank Ryan in person for this gift of life -- clean water. When they finally meet, an unbreakable bond unites these boys from very different backgrounds, and a long and sometimes life-threatening journey begins. Ryan and Jimmy is part of CitizenKid: A collection of books that inform children about the world and inspire them to be better global citizens.
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Herb Shoveller is a former journalist and the great-uncle of Ryan Hreljac.From School Library Journal:
Grade 3-6–When Ryan Hreljac's first-grade teacher told his class about countries where people did not have access to clean drinking water, the boy became determined to change things. This account follows his efforts from what began as one child committed to building one well, and grew over several years into an international network of fundraising, educating, and well-drilling that extended far beyond anyone's expectations. Ryan's endeavors also brought him into contact with Akana Jimmy, a youngster from Agweo Village, Uganda, the location of the first well. In 2000, Ryan went to Uganda, and the two boys met for the first time. Through their friendship and correspondence, readers will gain insight into a world in which children face unimaginable hardships. In the fall of 2002, rebel forces abducted Jimmy, and though he escaped, his life was placed in great danger. The narrative then details the Hreljacs' laborious but successful efforts to bring him to Canada. Clearly written and illustrated with full-color family photographs set against colorful backgrounds, this story is both personal and representative of the many people living in developing countries, the individuals working against all odds to help them, and the power of young people to make a difference. A great choice for booktalking or small-group sharing and discussion, with many possible connections, from social and economic to geographic and political.–Genevieve Gallagher, Murray Elementary School, Charlottesville, VA
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