The friends Bill Clinton left behind in Africa

Mary Wiltenburg, for the Pulitzer Center


Emma (r.) plays in the grass with his friend Jean in Kanembwa camp in April. His family is now in the final rounds of resettlement interviews with US immigration. They have asked to be sent to Atlanta, so they can be with Bill's family.

Until they were 6, Bill and his friends Emmanuel and Jean-Jacques lived together in Mkugwa, a camp of 2,000 Central African refugees in Northwest Tanzania. Their parents were close friends, and the boys grew up sharing meals, soccer games, wheelbarrow rides. Then, in October 2006, everything changed.

First, Bill's family won the "resettlement lottery"and were granted visas to the United States. Then Mkugwa closed, and Emma's and Jean-Jacques's families were sent on to different camps, different probable futures. Gulfs started to yawn among the three boys' experiences. Today, the onetime soccer buddies are nearly 10. For a glimpse of their lives now, click below.