i-ACT: Day Six

Women with their Children
6:01 pm

Right away on entering Mile, I noticed that women are the energy that powers the camp.

Women, with their children, gather water and dig up dirt to create mud bricks. They carry these bricks to their tents and then build walls that become rooms and spaces for their families to live more comfortably in.

Women, with their children, walk long distances to gather special clay with which, in a process that takes days, they create dishes and pots and jugs for their families to eat and drink from.

Women, with their children, walk up to twenty kilometers to collect wood, so that they can then cut it and use to build fires that will cook the meals that they, the women, prepared for their families.

The women of Darfur, with their children, have all of my respect.

Paz


Darfur in Mile
3:33 pm

It was a forty minute ride out to camp Mile. Beatrice, in a UNHCR vehicle, lead the way, and us, the i-ACT advance team, followed behind. Our car is still having breathing problems. Not yet out of the town, it started coughing and stalled. Bechara, our driver, got it going again, and we caught up to Beatrice. It is a nice ride out to Mile, a view of vast African plains covered with thin grass. The many camels you see lazily strolling around are probably a good indication that this is pretty close to the line where the Sahara meets the Sub-Sahara.

We made it to Mile, and Ali Khalil, from Care International, the camp managers, gave us a tour of the camp. Mile is a large collection of tents and mud structures. More than 13,000 Darfuri refugees live in this camp, which opened on May 6, 2004. This group, made up mostly of people from the Zaghawan tribe, had first fled from Darfur to the Chad border in 2003. They were later moved to Mile by the UNHCR.

There are so many mixed feelings I went through while walking Mile. I felt great joy at being with these people I have been so intensely focused on for the last year. Seeing the beautiful, bright colors of their clothing gave me goose-bumps. I am here! The young children are all life. They come to us with their wide smiles and eyes full of curiosity.

I also felt sadness. The younger children were born in these camps. The older ones might want to forget the horrors associated with their villages. The women are strength. They do so much of the work that keeps their communities strong and alive.

An older gentleman, Idriss, wanted to pose proudly for the camera, telling the child next to him to straighten up and look at the lens. Idriss gave us thanks for all of the help his people are receiving. He said he wants to go back home, but there is no security. He only feels safe inside the camp.

I know that you will enjoy watching Day 6. Please follow the steps to help end genocide. All of this is not worth it, if you do not follow up with action. These beautiful people deserve to feel safe. They deserve to go home.

Paz


Incident
9:05 am

We’re waiting for Beatrice from UNHCR to give the OK to go to Mile camp.

At 2am last night, a group of armed men stole the Guereda Prefect’s car. They also took one other vehicle from the local hospital. UNHCR is not sure who these men are of if they belong to any group.

Chadian military chased the men out of Guereda, and one of the fleeing cars crashed, with a gun fight ensuing. There were no known casualties. The car robbers fled into the bush, and the Chadian military continues after them.

Instead of leaving for Mile at 7:30, we might leave closer to 9:00. There is an advisory against using the road to Abeche. Good thing that we are going in another direction.


Commenting Back
6:54 am

Good morning!

I read some of your comments last night. Thanks for staying in touch.

Charles, thank you for the quick Arabic language lesson. Shukrau!

Michael M., thanks for the notes and thanks for helping with the site and this blog in particular.

Ray B., it’s great to hear from you. Please say hi to everyone at o.net.

Lidia, thanks for the good wishes.

Tom (there’s a few Tom’s, but it’s the Tom that commented about religion), I completely agree with you. The conflict in Darfur is not about religion. A group in power is using the different tensions and the competition for the scarce natural resources in the area to attain its goals. I apologize if what I said or wrote implies otherwise. Thanks for letting me know!

Gabriel co-founded Stop Genocide Now in 2005, which gave birth to i-ACT in 2009.

He became involved in the situation in Darfur out of a sense of personal responsibility. He believes the power of community and compassion, combined with personal empowerment, can bring about meaningful change.

Comments

comments

Comments

8 Responses to “i-ACT: Day Six”
  1. Rachel says:

    Hi guys,

    I’m so glad you made it to Guereda.

    Wow! Your living quarters are the nice ones in the area? I’m sure that others see you as being very lucky. You have a clean area to sleep and eat, a private area for cleaning, and whatever it was that you said was the restroom…and then you come home…

    Rachel

  2. Teresa says:

    Hi Gabe,
    Today indeed was a day of giving thanks and thanks to all of you out there trying to make a difference for those who are suffering.
    About Day 4, as they say… “a picture paints a thousand words” and this clip sure did.
    And Day 5, interesting to see the camps and looking forward to learning more about life in the camps and the people who are there.
    Hope you were able to get a good meal at the end of the day and let us know what kind of food you eat there. We missed you here. Teresa

  3. Anonymous says:

    You are an inspiration. I sat with family yesterday and gave thanks for all that I am fortunate to be able to do. I gave thanks for my freedom and the ability to speak my mind and care. I thought of the Sudan, I thought of Darfur and I looked at the green bracelet I wear and sadness took my heart. I thank you for your courage, love, and humanity to be able to send us pictures and words. Thank you from the bottom of my soul. I wish you a safe trip, may the angels surround you.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Hello from Seattle, Washington! I’ve just checked out your site for the first time and viewed the video clips. Very powerful and thought-provoking to see the footage. I’m a middle school social studies teacher and I’ve given passed on info about this effort to one of my colleageus who is teaching about current conflicts in Africa. This seems like a great tool for teachers and their students! I look forward to following your adventure.

    ~ Alan Bruns

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hola Gabriel

    Que barbaro! Cuantas cosas estas viviendo, que deficil se ve todo por alla… ni me lo imagino! espero todo les salga bien, feliz dia de Gracias cuidate mucho y sigue haciendo tu labor! eres un Orgullo para la familia.

    love tu prima
    Liz

  6. Anonymous says:

    Dear Gabe,
    your message and video in particular has made me realize how strong and brave the women and children of Darfur are. I know how important my mom is to me and my family, and I can only imagine the importance mothers in Darfur have in supporting their kids and their communities. Thank you for your efforts in Darfur and i wish you and all the mothers and children the best.

    the children are the voices of the future, i hope we are able to let their voices be heard.

    sincerely,
    Shannon

  7. sophie Glass says:

    Dear Gabriel and the I-Act team,
    Thank you for being our eyes and ears in Chad and Sudan. It’s so important that the rest of the world have a visual of what is life like in Refugee camps and how the people spend their days. Colorado College will be closely following your journey and will watch with excitement as the activism spreads.
    PAZ,
    Sophie Glass (Colorado College STAND)

  8. Anonymous says:

    nice job going back in forth form place to place

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