Nya notices that her little sister, Akeer, is quiet. Akeer has been complaining about her stomach pains, but now she’s eerily quiet. Nya knows many people who suffer from stomach pains. There’s a medical clinic located a few days’ walk away. Nya’s family has to decide: should they take Akeer to the clinic or hope that she heals on her own?
One of the most unfortunate consequences of the scarcity of water in developing countries is the ubiquity of bacterial diseases. Here, Akeer appears to be suffering from some kind of gastrointestinal infection as a result of drinking dirty water. Even worse, the clinic is so far away that Akeer’s family has to take a gamble on whether they should take her to seek medical attention or not.
Salva walks with the rest of the group, thinking about what Jewiir has told him. Martial is gone, and in this part of the country, his disappearance probably means he’s been killed by a lion. Jewiir assures Salva that he’ll protect Salva from lions using his rifle.
Salva doesn’t know what happened to Marial, and never will—but must move on. Jewiir has by now established himself as Salva’s protector and, in many ways, his de-facto parent.
One day, the group begins to smell vegetation, which means that they’re getting closer to the Nile River, the longest river in the world. This also means they’re almost in Ethiopia. Jewiir assures Salva that they’ll all be able to cross the water.
Jewiir’s confidence seems to motivate Salva to keep moving, even though Salva is skeptical that he’ll be able to cross the Nile safely.
When the group reaches the Nile, everyone sets to work cutting and gathering reeds. Some members of the group know how to use reeds to build boats and flotation devices. Salva finds that gathering reeds distracts him from his hunger and fear. After two full days of work, the group has built a small fleet of canoes. The group is ready to cross the Nile.
Simple tasks help to distract Salva from his despair. Many people who have lived through tragedy have reported a similar feeling: by focusing on small, “local” tasks, they momentarily forget the big, looming tragedies in their lives.