Going back to see friends.

13 January 2008

We just landed in Europe, after the first big jump, with a few more jumps ahead of us before we get to the refugee camps in Eastern Chad. Everything is so expensive here at the Paris airport! My diet-soda, one of my last ones before being diet-soda-less for three weeks in Chad, was about five dollars! Well worth it, though.

I was telling KTJ that, when planning and even executing i-ACT1 back in 2005, we were not looking beyond that one trip to the camps. I could never have imagined that more than two years later I’d be at this same airport, on my way for i-ACT4. I could never have imagined that the crisis in Darfur would still be getting worse, and that Chad, the neighbor that took in hundreds of thousands of refugees in danger, would now have its own growing number of displaced people. Violence and instability is the norm in the region.

We’re going back to see our friends in the camps. This time, though, we are not coming alone. We are bringing communities from all over the US that want to build more than symbolic relationships with the families in the camps. We have commitments from high school students, church groups, citywide coalitions, actors, and even NBA players. They all want to be a part of changing how the world has responded to genocide and mass atrocities. We’re going to make it personal.

My son, Gabo (short for Gabriel in Spanish; like Gabe, but cooler), has given me some of his most valued possessions to give as gifts to some of the kids in the camps he knows by name. For Leila, he picked the top one, Lightning McQueen, a little toy car and a character from the movie “Cars,” which I’ve seen at least 25 times. He also sent a train and some dinosaurs for Mansur and Aljafis. He asked me if I could just bring Leila back home with me. With the whole drama of the French aid workers trying to smuggle kids out of Chad, I think my four-year old son is going to have to wait until he can visit Leila in a peaceful Darfur.

Hang in there with us, as we start this fourth i-ACT. Let us know what you think; ask us questions; suggest actions; be a part of this community. I can assure you that it is a mutually beneficial relationship. I go in to this thinking that I could help the survivors. I’m finding out that I have grown in ways that would never have happened if I had not met my Darfuri friends.

Paz,

g

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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Category: Before i-ACT · Tags: , , ,

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3 Responses to “Going back to see friends.”
  1. teresa says:

    Hi Gabe and KTJ!
    Good to hear from you and by the time you read this you will already be in Chad surely exhausted from the long flight but excited about the journey ahead. Gabe, it is amazing that this is i-ACT 4 but it is also amazing how you have managed to involve and motivate so many others in this cause and although you say that things have not gotten better in Darfur, at least you can find some satisfaction that you will be making a difference at the refugee camps in Chad with the projects already in progress.
    You are also making a difference with the younger generations back here in the US which you have interfaced with at the schools you visit and Gabo as a true testament to how even 4 yr olds can be touched by the people of Darfur that you bring in to our lives and knowing how “attached” Gabo is to his toys, you know he will grow up and not stand for the atrocities of genocide.
    Look forward to following you and KTJ, Josh and Jeremiah in the days ahead. Take care! Teresa

  2. Gabo says:

    Hola mi chavo, and KTJ

    Estamos con ustedes en el recorrido. Ya sabes a cual campamento van primero? Gabo me pregunta si ya viste a Leila, esta ancioso por verte con los ninos. Gabo dice hola a KTJ. cuidense mucho.
    Zahara

  3. Tony says:

    Hi, Gabe and other friends for Darfur
    It’s always refreshing to know that you are there , unrelenting in the quest for an end to the genocide and the human rights of those most in need of your help. I remember when I first found out about this genocide from you, and how you were open-mindedly looking for strategies that could make a difference. No matter what the result, you are making a difference, so there’s no reason to stop. Ideally, there would be some responsible government in the world that would actually take the responsibilty to end the genocide. So, we’ll do our best. We will contact you again when Amnesty International meets to contact you from the meeting, at this same time but starting an hour and a half earlier than now………………………Wishing you both and Darfurians the best, Tony

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