In 2009, Nya’s village is full of the sound of drilling. After three full days of drilling, the workers locate water beneath the ground. The entire village cheers. However, Nya notices that the water is muddy.
Even though it’s finally been confirmed that there is water beneath the village, Nya is still dubious that the water is drinkable.
It’s 1996 and Salva is now twenty-two years old. He has been living in refugee camps in Kenya since arriving in the country. The first camp is a wretched place, almost like a prison, where tens of thousands of people live. After two years there, Salva leaves the camp and goes south in search of better conditions. He leads a group of young men to the region of Ifo. To their dismay, the refugee camp in Ifo is no better than the one they left. In the camp, it’s “hard to keep hope alive.”
The pace of this chapter is much faster than that of previous chapters, as Salva grows from seventeen to twenty-two. Park emphasizes the hopelessness of the refugee camp, suggesting that hope is an important part of survival—perhaps just as important as food, water, or shelter.
In Ifo, Salva meets an Irish aid worker named Michael. As a result of having living in different refugee camps for so long, Salva has learned to speak a little English. Michael notices Salva’s abilities, and offers to teach him to read. Salva quickly learns the English letters, and Michael praises him for his hard work. Michael also shows Salva how to play volleyball.
Salva’s life in the refugee camps is hard, but it’s not all bad. He makes friends with Michael and learns some valuable lessons from him.
A rumor spreads through the refugee camp: three thousand boys are going to be chosen to go to the United States. However, it seems that Salva’s name hasn't been put on the list of boys who are being considered. Many of the boys on the list are much younger than Salva. One day, Salva finds that his name has been placed on the list after all—and he’s being sent to Rochester, New York.
By the early 2000s, there were literally tens of thousands of orphaned children in Sudan as a result of the long, bloody civil war. In response to the catastrophic situation, many families—some of them Sudanese, but many of them American, European, or Canadian—volunteered to adopt the children, sometimes known as the “Lost Girls” and “Lost Boys” of Sudan.