Connie Journal

Camp #3

I slept only 2 hours got up at 4:30 to catch a flight to northern Chad (dejavu?). We are always running and packing last minute cables and wires and all that electronic stuff because usually either Gabe or Yuen-Lin or both are still working. I want to make a small sidetrack here to make a point. Yesterday we arrived in Abeche and went straight to UNHCR headquarters; we went to see about our flight. Also we had lunch there. A delicious, scrumptious out of this world …EGG SANDWICH! We have been eating the same thing everyday; a granola bar for breakfast and a granola bar for lunch Gabe and I ate tuna (Yuen-Lin had a little more variety thanks to Carolyn) every night for I believe it was 5 days. The point is you get tired of the same old bland food everyday and long for your favorite food. So now imagine our friends here at the camps, they have eaten the same ground grain mixed with a little water, some of them for ur to four years!

Getting back to our flight… We left a couple of suitcases because we would be coming back through here on our way out. Ali#2 picked us up and we were off again.

Charred villageWell we finally ran out of luck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! When we were weighed in we were still over 2 times. There was no convincing this guy. And guess what? Not only were we over but Ali #1 was not on the reserved list! And there was no getting him on either! So right there in front of everyone we started sorting the entire luggage and left everything except all the equipment we needed to make the video and write our journals. No more gifts, only a change of clothes and no food but for a few granola bars we stuffed in our pants, oh and no translator! We got on our plane (an older model than the first plane to Abeche!) single engine, and started our flight. It would be a long flight because we had to drop-off some passengers to the most northern corner of Chad, Remember Ann did not recommend coming here at all due to violence spilling over from Sudan.

Sign on carOn arriving the scenery completely changes because you are now entering the Sahara Desert. Our landing strip, rocks on both sides of sand. And the same for our second landing where UNHCR employees who drove us in an armed convoy to town welcomed us. There we met Jorge he made everything happen quickly so that another military escort could lead the way to the camp. We arrived and as usual had to be signed in at the camp managers office we met several men. Jacob the inspector of the camp school and the Sheik tribal leader of the camp. Gabe had met Jacob in 2005 and the wonderful thing; he speaks great English! (Who needs Ali… not us) Today the conversation was about the wants and needs of the refugees and how 10 different tribes that otherwise have many differences here as refugees stick together and coexist. The interview was very informative and Jacob is a charismatic eloquent representative of his people here at this camp. There was also something very different at this camp; the kids and women were although curious and friendly much more subdued and reserved. Back at our camp Jorge gave a very good explanation; this camp has lived under constant fear of violent attacks and some have died here from those attacks so this takes a great toll on the refugees. And they may be weary and cautious of outside people. Today was not enough time for me to really evaluate the feeling here but tomorrow we will be back to make new friends.

Back at the camp Jorge invited us to stay at their compound and that lunch was waiting for us. Wow, with a few good friends, a day that started out with a few more challenges worked itself out perfect! And the icing on the cake was that Gabriel’s good friend Hala also arrived. She is in charge of UNHCR here and has been in contact with Gabe. Together they think they will come up with ways to help the refugees here.

Everyday here has been exciting and rewarding. Gabe and Yuen-Lin are incredible companions and the people we have met on this journey here in Africa have all been helpful and eager to share with us. And you guys back home, also very supportive. It means a lot to know that you appreciate the work we have accomplished and you inspire us to work even harder. Tomorrow is our last day and I am looking forward to making more wonderful friends!

Camp #3 children

Amor y Paz,Connie.

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9 Responses to “Connie Journal”
  1. mimi schiff says:

    Thank you for your wonderful entry. I was wondering about the people that Gabriel met on past trips. It is wonderful to know that he reconnected and can stay connected to them. Thank you for giving us faces with names. It is easy for p eople to not care when others remain nameless and faceless. Now they have identities, Their dreams are known and you are witness to their lives. Thank you all for you spirit, determination, and soul.
    Mimi Schiff

  2. zahara says:

    Hola Connie,

    Que de barreras hay que atravezar para poder llegar donde quieren verdad? pero que gusto poder ver nuevamente gente que Gabe ha conocido atravez d I-ACT.
    Gracias y arriba animos!!!
    Z

    PD. tu admirdor #1 Gabo siempre los esta viendo.

  3. Mimi Stauring says:

    Hi Connie,
    Wow,I cant believe that tommorow is your last day there.It all pasted very quickly.
    TAKE ACTION!!!!
    -mimi

  4. Pam B says:

    Hello Connie, Yuen-Lin and Gabriel,
    Like Mimi, I was so surprised when Connie mentioned tomorrow is your last day, day number 10! Those of us who are following your video and postings, probably all share the feeling: for a few moments each day of i-Act we can almost touch our friends from Darfur. Now suddenly the trip is nearly complete. But the connection will continue, thanks to your work. I wonder if Ahmat’s family will be in the camp you visit your final day? I think of him often.

    Connie, thank you for your wonderfully anecdotal reporting. I can almost taste that egg sandwich! All the Student Task Force members can appreciate your description of the daily refugee meals from the work they did with Gabe’s Camp Darfur.

    We will see you Day 10!

    Be safe up north,
    Pam B

  5. Lisa Goldner says:

    Hi, Connie!

    What a chaotic departure you had filled with such anxiety! Thankfully, you are all flexible, and were able to make the swift adjustments (i.e., leaving behind dear friend/translator and supplies) so you could continue your transport. I’m sure the efficient reception by the UNHCR folks really helped to calm things after so much frenzy. Most importantly, you made it to he northern camp, safely.

    The refugees consistently indicate a strong desire to return to Darfur and rebuild their lives once it is safe. We have taken the actions your team’s listed hoping in some small way this will help them reach their goal. Our prayer continue for all those displaced by this genocide. Take care.

    Blessings,

    Lisa

  6. MaryAnn says:

    Glad to see things worked out by the end of the day. How frustrating it must be for you to encounter problems at the last minute like that. You, much like the people there have kept a such positive outlook. It’s hard to believe that tomorrow will be the last day for updates from an inside perspective. Even though I have enoyed the interaction for the past nine days, I hope day ten will be the last of it, this will mean the people of Darfur can finally go home. Be safe
    Peace,
    MaryAnn

  7. mimi schiff says:

    Just thought you would like to know that my daughter Rachel called me very excited that she had seen coverage of your trip to the camp on CNN. She said ” I just saw Connie and Gabriel he was wearing his Humanity Before Politics tee shirt”. She was so excited that she broke into one of my client sessions. I then explained your trip to the Camps and the story of Darfur and the genocide. The word does get out even if it is one client at a time.

  8. Charles D. says:

    Hi Connie and Gabe,
    I’ve been following your daily reports although I was out of town a few days and had to catch up.
    On the Israel News broadcast tonight they featured a story about refugees from Darfur who have traveled to Israel and how Israeli families are taking them in so nobody is left on the streets. The government is not sure what to do with them but for now they are being taken care of in kibutz, private homes and agricultural farms. They are being given shelter, food and work. You see the kids dressed well and playing with toys and on bikes. It’s nice to see that Israel did not turn them away.
    Take care of yourselves, safe trip back.

  9. gina says:

    Hello Connie, Gab and Yuen-Lin:

    Your journey there is coming to an end; your reports, statements and images will forever haunt us; We thank you all for your courage to take a powerful stance and making this information available to us and the world! The entire i-Act team is incredible! Take care and we will see you soon!
    Love,
    g & b

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