In 1992, Ring, Athian, and Mager Bol were Sudanese refugee children who fled civil war with their parents and sister.
But less than one month after the family arrived in America, the sons’ mother died from a lung disease.
“With me, when my mother passed I was lost,” said Athian, the middle brother. “You come to a new land and the person that we love the most passes.”
The brothers say their mothers’ death led to their downward spiral, which included alcoholism. It led to the three of them living in ‘The Jungle,' a notorious encampment under I-5.
“It's dusty, dirty, there's a lot of people there with mental illness,” said Mager, the youngest.
The brothers spoke of the encampment’s dangers.
“We used to take shifts,” explained Athian. “I watch you while you sleep to make sure nothing happens to our brothers.”
Three years ago the eldest brother, Ring, decided to leave the Jungle.
“After months and months of praying, that was it for me I just walked away from the Jungle,” he said.
He went to the Union Gospel Mission’s Men’s Recovery Program. It’s a yearlong program, according to director Scott Cleveland.
“They found themselves isolated in the Jungle and that’s where we found them,” said Cleveland.
“Ring was ready,” he continued. “And his other brothers, as you learn their story, there’s been a path of resistance for them.”
Athian was upset at his older brother who went to get help.
“I thought he abandoned us,” said Athian. “ (But) after a while you know, I seen him change, you know, and that kind of brought a little bit of hope. And I'm glad he did it he never forgot about us.”
Ring convinced both brothers to get into the mission’s program. Mager graduated last month. Athian is halfway through his program.
“A lot of people just like wrote us off,” said Athian. “Like, there's no hope for these guys. They will never amount to nothing.”
The brothers credit their faith through their change.
“It’s a miracle to even explain the transformation that has happened to me and my brothers,” said Ring.
Ring and Mager now both have full-time jobs and live together.