Gabriel’s Day 8 Journal
Flying, North of Abeche
Hello Friends y Familia:
You all make me feel supported and loved. I look forward to reading your comments everyday, and I check as often as possible. Each leg of this trip takes me physically farther and farther from what I know and feel as home. I also end up in places that are less predictable and harder to get out of, in case of danger. Being connected to you, though, knowing that you are there, gives me strength and lifts my spirits.
As I am flying north, through the little window of this single-engine plane, I can see a large refugee camp, a city of tents. I know that many thousands of human beings live there. In the desert that surrounds it, the camp looks small and as if it is ready to be swallowed by the sand. Where does each person living in that camp, many for four years, find the strength and energy to stay standing?
As connected as I feel to you, they must feel abandoned by the world. They cling to their home, which is now more of a mirage than a reality, through their songs and the little bit of culture they have been able to carry across the border.
After visiting Leila’s tent-home, we walked around the camp for about an hour. It was hot, with the middle of the day sun shining on us. Leila did not stay home. She grabbed my hand, and her older sister grabbed her hand, and we made a little chain as we walked. After a few minutes, when we stopped to change tapes on our video recorder, I looked down, so I could smile with Leila; I know that she’ll be smiling! She was, but she also put her hands up, in the universal sign for “pick me up!”
I carried Leila for what felt to my arms like a long time. I was tired. Then I saw young girls carrying their almost-the-same-size-as-they-are brothers and sisters, without even breaking a sweat. I felt a bit on the wimp side. It also felt so good to carry Leila. She put her little arm around my neck and rested her head on my shoulder. Leila was just being a child, looking for comfort with someone that, I hope, made her feel comfortable.
For me, on the other hand, it was so much more. I wish so much it was that easy to bring comfort to all of the children we have been meeting and to all of the children that are still inside of Darfur, suffering through conditions we do not even want to think about. Leila did not have any sandals on, and the sand was burning hot, and the rocks were sharp. I asked Ali to go to the market and get some little sandals for her, but I had to tell him to do it quietly and take them to the mother in the tent. There were just too many children without shoes. Do you want to know what feeling really powerless feels like?
But Leila never stopped smiling, so I have to find the power to do more.
ps. I miss my family, my Gabo & my Mimi & my Z. Hugs.
ps. #2- I’m sorry about not being able to answer everything on time, but I will catch up. The three of us here keep going until we crash. It becomes something of a relay crashing thing :) We travel, meet with all kinds of officials and representatives from agencies, besides our daily i-ACT work at the camps and then on the computers. But it would not be i-ACT if it was not interactive, so Connie has been great at getting back to everyone. Please write back if there was a question that we missed, and I do promise to catch up with all of the comments directed to me. We do try to address your questions and thoughts on the videos also.