Charles De Galle, aeroport de Paris
13 January 08
One step closer to N’DJamena, and one step closer to meeting friends face to face who I have met through my teammates. I am eager to see for myself what the capital looks like, and hear the sounds of a city that, like the East and Darfur, has been in turmoil for so long. The poverty that I have seen and experienced in Southeast Asia, Central America and the United States no where near compares to what I will experience on the border of Chad and Sudan. I do know there is one thing in common between the human experience: the longing for home, to place one’s roots down solid in the ground and move forward from there. Villagers displaced by dam projects in Thailand, redevelopment in Guatemala and Rain Forest devastation on the Amazon beg for answers to one single questions: why should we give up our lives for the “betterment,” as defined by government and big business, of society as whole; why us, why not you? If an American was asked to leave their home because the government wanted to use the land for a national project, there would be an uproar. There are uproars, and sometimes voices are even heard. In many other countries around the world people are forced to leave either through government or militia force. There many times is no citizen review process or local constitution that protects the rights of all the people, no matter what race, ethnicity, religion or class.
Which leads me to why I am doing what I am doing. Many people have tried to talk me out of this trip, saying that I can do better work here in the States; why put my life in danger? But why is my life any more precious than the life of someone who wants the same thing: the power to live the life they choose. Every Darfurian and every human being deserves to choose their future. To say where they want to live and create a home and life. I have this right where I come from, and so will stand by Darfurians and every global citizen who wants, and deserves, the very same thing.
This journey is different for many reasons, one of which is the nature of the work. What I will be experiencing, I get to share with my entire network of friends, family, and fellow activists. The stories I hear will be shared with you. And you can share your experience with me. Beyond the three weeks I will spend listening, learning and opening myself, I have the privilege to create sustainable, long term relationships that will change the way communities interact and respond to mass atrocities forever. My hopes are that these relationships help end the violence in Darfur. But moreover, my hope is that by building understanding and fostering relationships between people who might otherwise only know one another through definitions, images, and boxes, that targeted violence ends forever.
Today is only the first day of our journey together that has implications for the rest of our lives.