The year is 2009, and Nya is standing in line at her village’s new well, holding a plastic bottle. Today is the “opening ceremony” for the well. At the ceremony, her village chief announced that the well had been built with funds from the students of the Elm Street School in America. When Nya finally drinks some water, it tastes delicious: it’s cool and clear.
At last, it’s clear that the engineers’ efforts haven’t been in vain: the well will provide clean drinking water for all the villagers.
In the coming months, there will be a new school in the village, as well as a market and a medical clinic. People from across the country will come to use the village’s well. Nya is overjoyed that she won’t have to spend her days walking miles to the pond.
Dep informs Nya that the operator of the well is a Dinka man. This surprises Nya, since the Dinka and the Nuer have been enemies for hundreds of years. Dep knows that the operator has drilled many wells over the years, some for his own tribe and some for other tribes.
With development in Sudan, Park argues, the centuries-old tensions between different ethnic groups will subside. Since these tensions were largely based on disputes over resources, providing more of these resources may lead to lasting peace. With this in mind, the designers of the well are making a point of providing clean water for both Dinka and Nuer tribes.
Nya notices the well operator, and shyly says hello to him. She thanks him for bringing water to her community, and tells him that her name is Nya. The man smiles and says, “My name is Salva.”
Here, at the end of the book, the two storylines come together. Salva has realized his dream of providing clean water for the impoverished villagers of Sudan. In doing so, Salva helps to provide opportunities for children like Nya, who would otherwise have to spend much of their waking lives fetching water from a faraway pond. Park brings her book to the optimistic conclusion that, with hope and hard work, people can work together to help improve the lives of those who are most in need.