Nya’s family decides that Akeer needs to see a doctor after all. Nya and her mother take Akeer to the clinic, and the doctor treats Akeer. Now, Akeer is her old self again—happy and smiling. The nurse tells Nya’s mother that Akeer got sick from drinking the dirty water in the pond. She advises Nya’s mother to boil the water before drinking it. The problem, Nya knows very well, is that water can only be collected from the pond in small quantities—so small that they evaporate when boiled.
Back in 1985, Salva and his group paddle across the Nile River. Salva sits in a canoe with Uncle Jewiir, who paddles hard. After many hours, the boats arrive at an island in the middle of the river. Salva is surprised to see that the island people, fishermen, have lots of food. Some of the members of the group beg for food, but Uncle Jewiir receives food without having to ask. Perhaps this is because he’s armed, Salva thinks. Salva enjoys yams, fish, and sugar cane. But the food also saddens Salva; it reminds him of being back at home, where he was always well-fed.
The passage points to a recurring theme in the lives of many disaster survivors. Paradoxically, the peaceful atmosphere and abundance of food seem to make Salva feel more depressed. This is very similar to the way that many people who suffer from PTSD behave: in an actual crisis situation, they relax and become eerily calm; in a “calm” situation, however, they become agitated and upset.
As night falls on the island, the mosquitoes come out, tormenting the refugees in Salva’s group. Nobody sleeps that night—“the mosquitoes made sure of that.” The next day, Salva scratches his mosquito bites until they bleed. The travelers climb back into their canoes and paddle onward. The most difficult part of their journey still lies ahead: crossing the Akobo desert.
Salva endures all manner of problems—big and small—but continues to keep moving forward into Ethiopia, rather than give up.