Returning

Today I met Mia Farrow — not the actress, the refugee Mia Farrow. IMG_2540She can’t be more than four years old. Her older sister, another beautiful girl just as Mia, is Susan — yes, like Susan Rice. They are both daughters of one of the camp’s Umbdas, or camp leaders. Umbda has seven children, and today I will ask him what the names are for the other five. I can’t wait!

We met Umbda on our last trip, and it was great to see him again. He told me, “You said you would return.” We have heard this multiple times at the different camps we have visited on our now tenth i-ACT Expedition. You said you would return. A couple of trips ago, we made it back to camp Konoungou after not being able to visit for longer than we expected. We went to visit Fatne, an older woman that we had spent time with and who really connected with KTJ. When we sat with her in her home, she touched KTJ’s arm and told her, “You said you would return, and you did. You did,” and she repeated this a few times.

IMG_2545The Darfuris have a strong sense of community and they are ready to extend their community to include new friends — and the family and friends of the new friends. I believe that the coming back for a second visit really cements that relationship. They then know that you and your community are sincere. Mia Farrow, the actress, has been out here many, many times. Susan Rice has visited Darfur and been consistent in her message about the need for peace, protection, and justice for its people. They come back.

Somehow, the international community as whole has not returned. Umbda tells us about what he has been hearing of conditions inside of Darfur, the horrible new destruction that is happening in many areas, with tens of thousands displaced every month this year. He said that expecting peace in Darfur is like “reaching for the stars.” He wants to keep reaching.

Before leaving for the day, I want to get close to little Mia Farrow, but she runs quickly to her mother and then peeks from behind to see if I’m still coming. Since I know I will be going to the camp for the next five days, I don’t push it. But, I will carry little Mia before this trip is over. If it just does not happen, we’ll return — and you with us.

Peace,
Gabriel

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.

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