No more tents.

Day 11

kids snapping 2.JPG We begin at school today. At each camp we have stopped to speak with teachers and students about their lives and lack of resources. We don’t ever have to ask, they all tell us, they don’t have enough to feel the hope that we all strive to provide. We hand each child a small canvas panel and a pen, and they begin to tell their story.

Moudasi and pci 3.JPG Not one of their drawings is missing a gun or a man in camouflage. Even when I approach a girl who has drawn UNHCR tents and a woman carrying a basket on her head, there is an object I can’t decipher, and refer to Bouba for help. The straight line with a perfect 90 degree triangle made with her ruler and one half circle ends up being an AK-47. Her words, not mine.

They all draw it. The death. The blood. The burning of their lives in Darfur. Once a genocide begins, it never really ends. I think of Saad, Fatna’s youngest who is only 5 years old which means he has only ever lived in Camp Farchana.

He holds my hand as we wonder through the camp. Any other child who attempts to hold any of the rest of my four finger he is not holding is shoved away, brows crossed and a tighter grip pursues.

Today I realize how hard it is for me to help produce i-ACT. I connect with people. I speak with them. They speak with me. We hold each other’s intentions and history in our eye contact and small handshakes. Trying to capture it all on tape is hard. But it’s the most important part of my entire reason for being here. To tell the story of those I meet. And not just their words, but to try to convey all of them. The smell the overwhelms me, the colors that take infuse women and children together, the sounds of feet rushing behind me followed by, “Okay! Okay!

There is no way for me to convey all that I feel while I am here. Many of you who read this will hear stories over and over once I return home to Portland, and perhaps you will get a sense of it all through bits and pieces over dinner or a walk through a park.

My very good friend Mike and I have talked philosophy and human nature for many years now. One of the reoccurring themes is words have no meaning, only what we assume or ascribe to them.

And so I offer you this one word that had only the meaning that I can try to give. HOPE. People are depending on you and I. You can see it in their eyes. Although you have only seen only slideshow of still shots from the many we have collected. They all have names, and they all have stories. They all have HOPE. To return to a better time and place back in Darfur.

No more tents. No more begging. No more suffering.

We need to be doing more. We can wait no longer. I said to myself when I read Anne Frank’s Diary and then I wrote a report on Rwanda, I would do something if this ever happened again. It’s happening, right now.

Please, today ask someone new if they know about Darfur. Tell them one story of someone you have met on this journey. Begin with what you know. Every action that you take, every minute you spend advocating for Peace in Darfur makes the difference to Fatma, Saad, Ismail, Moustafa, Guisma, Adef, Fatne, Fatna, Fadila, Mariam, Mohamed, Abdoulhaman, Zaineb, Yakoub, Adam, Asha, and Darsalam.

No more tents. No more begging. No more suffering.

Peace Now, KTJ

Guidma, Djedda, Fatna 2.JPG

Katie-Jay keeps i-ACT running on several levels. Much of her work entails coordinating partnerships with other grassroots organizations and implementing the campaigns developed by Gabriel and seeing through the details. She graduated from Portland State University with a BA in Sociology and a focus on Community Development. She has previously worked as a community organizer in Thailand, Guatemala, and with grassroots organizations across the United States.

Comments

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Comments

26 Responses to “No more tents.”
  1. Kathleen Scott says:

    KTJ
    Every day I set one of your pictures of these beautiful people on the background for my computer. Praying for them is easy, I wish it was as easy to send them what they need. Sometimes love needs to come in practical packages, food, soap, water, helicopters. I read with frustration that there are more donors to a small loan program than there are recipients and don’t know how to get something started for the women of Darfur to do a craft and sell it here to help their families- how would materials get to them, goods to us?

    I love you and look forward to hearing more of your stories and strategizing on real help, real love.
    Your Ommi

    • Katie-Jay says:

      Ommi!
      You gave me great strength to be the person who I am and I am so grateful, every woman who I speak to here is also seeing a bit of you. Running with the children is so much fun. I can see why Stacey got pregnant three days after she got back from her trip out here. Most people back home wish that little Leila could return, but I found my little guy – Saad, he’s Fatna’s youngest and he just followed me around holding my hand. He wouldn’t let anyone else hold it.

      We have to figure out a way to wake people up. Not everyone can join us out here, but if we get one person from various communities to participate, then more and more people will become connected to those we have met and will meet. I am in awe of the power that a conversation, an image, a story can create.

      We do need to find ways to help them begin to rebuild their communities as women, but really what they need are basic necessities a way to return home. They don’t really want to start a business in a refugee camp, they want to start over in Darfur. That’s the hardest part. The INGO’s are just keeping them alive, and barely that, they can’t even give them soap. I can’t even imagine if that only pride that you could possibly have in your life is cleanliness, and you are deprived that….I can’t even imagine. Their homes are in ruins, they don’t have enough food or water, and they can’t even wash themselves or their clothes for personal pride. Real solutions for real people. That is what we need!

  2. Lisa says:

    KTJ, we’re putting their photos and stories on postcards, e-mails, t-shirts, flyers . . . we want them to been seen and heard by everyone we communicate with even if just in passing or waiting somewhere in another line. I think of the lines in which they wait, entry to camps, for food, fuel, housing, medical care, . . . even simple “soap.” Let’s find bigger ways to make noise, but until then, keep even the small individual chatter going — it can all bring HOPE. It would be wonderful to see programs like those under Life in Africa generating empowerment within these camps, and building skills for their return to Darfur.

    Salaam,

    Lisa
    San Antonio

    • Katie-Jay says:

      Greetings Lisa!
      I want so badly for there to be more programs for women in these camps. Skill building, trauma recovery, something, anything for them to do that they feel good about spending their time doing and provides them a skill to return to Darfur with. The major barrier to this is security. Often these programs are looked at as nonessential when compared to food, shelter and water and so are the first to pull out when violence stirs. UNHCR even sometimes leaves the area but is always the last one to do so and the first ones back when no one else is returning. Let’s make some more noise for these women and children!!!!

  3. Tim Nonn says:

    Hi KTJ,

    When I think about the tent company sewing together the panels to make the first patchwork tent, I think about how you, Gabriel and the rest of the SGN team are weaving together the lives and hopes of the Darfuri people and people elsewhere in the world. For me, that’s what the patchwork tents will always represent.

    God bless you!

    Tim

    • Katie-Jay says:

      Greetings Tim!
      The patchwork of lives really is what Tents of Hope is all about. And the pride and gratitude that we see on our communities faces when we show them their community back in the States, wow…if anything but for that moment it is all worth it. Thank you for what you doing for the people of Darfur!

  4. connie says:

    KTJ,
    Watching and reading your journal reminded me of the day I left Farchana,I was fisically sick and emotionally overwhelmed,I felt guilt ridden,maybe we were giving them false hopes? It is very hard to reconcile the way I live with what is happening there,but I promise I will do more so that those hopes can become reality.
    Amor y Paz,Connie.
    Monterrey,Mexico.

    • Katie-Jay says:

      Greetings Connie!
      It is very hard to say goodbye when you know the connection that we bring to this community here with the greater world means so much to both sides. I have thought many times on this journey – I’ll just stay and continue to create i-ACT to work with the people here. To travel around and check on projects and talk – I’ll just sit with them, collect their stories and shoot them back to the US…but I know it’s not practical. And I know how powerful and how much Camp Darfur and the retelling of their stories and voices can be in the States. But part of me wants to stay, a large part of me does. I go back and forth and back and forth, but I know I will be returning so I know that the goodbyes were more like see you laters.

  5. Tiffany Wheeler says:

    Katie-Jay I promise I will do more so that those hopes can become reality.

    • Katie-Jay says:

      Hey sista, T!
      I know you are doing so much for Darfur! Thank you for your continued efforts and dedication! I have lots of video ideas for all our footage and look forward to working with you in LA when we get back!1!! I didn’t get a chance to email you about the after the call today, it was great – about 40 minutes…and when I get back she is going to do a larger spread on the whole thing the “Hot Seat” section as they call it at Willamette Week! Thanks for all your work and promise!

  6. Cory says:

    KTJ, I also promise I will step it up and do more so that those hopes can become reality.

    • Katie-Jay says:

      Cory!
      Thank you for your continued dedication! I know you are doing so much, and thank you! Fatna and Mariam and Yakoub and Adam, they thank you too!! Can’t wait to catch up in LA!

  7. Diane Gandee Sorbi says:

    Hi KTJ,

    I first heard of this website on a Darfur conference call last week that you called in on. I have been spending time getting caught up on the stories and videos. You and Gabriel are doing an incredible job conveying the way things really are there. Many of the stories have moved me to tears. I’m keeping the people of Darfur and you and the team in my thoughts and prayers.

    Sincerely,

    Diane

    • Katie-Jay says:

      Greetings Diane and welcome to the community of SGN!
      I am so glad that you followed up after the call! It is activists like yourself who keep us in the field motivated to continue our work. These stories and voices are real people. Its hard, after 5 years, to stay motivated in our efforts, but when I am out here and see their faces and hold their hands, I am reenergized and realize that we need to be doing more. And that it is urgent, they are suffering, today, right now!

      Thank you for joining us and I hope you become a part of our community long term! I encourage you to take the daily actions even though you are just catching up! Its taking them, whenever that might be that is most important.

  8. Consuelo says:

    GABRIEL MI HIJO QUERIDO LA ALEGRIA DE QUE TE ENCUENTRES ALLI SE ME VOLVIO ALGO TREMENDO CUANDO TUVE COMUNICACION DE QUE SE ENCONTRABAN SIN VIVERES POR MOTIVOS NUNCA PREVISTOS ME LEVANTE REZANDO ROCIANDO AGUA BENDITA Y PONIENDOME FRANITOS DE SAL TAMBIEN BENDITA PIDIENDOLE A DIOS Y TODOS LOS SANTOS ANGELES Y TODAS LAS POTESTADES DIVINAS ME FUE DICHO TANTOS MALOS MENSAJES QUE JAMAS RECAPACITE AUN SIN EMBARGO DICIENDOLE A DIOS PADRE SI EL ESTA PERFECTAMENTE ENTERADO DE LO QUE PUEDE OCURRIR PUES ES TU VIDA Y LAS DE LOS QUE CON ENTEREZA DE CORAZON LO HACEN YA ESA EL MUNDO ENTERADO DE LO QUE ES ANDAR EN LOS CAMPOS DE REFUIGIADOS NOS DAN UNA BUENA IDEA AUNQUE NO PLATICAN DE LO QUE PASAN PARA SUS NECESIDADES DE COMER Y TODO LO DEMAS AHORA ESPEREMOS QUE USTEDES VENGAN Y MUCHAS MAS PERSONAS PUEDAN CONTINUAR HACIENDO EL PROPOSITO DE AYUDAR EN CUANTO LES SEA POSIBLE EL PRESIDENTE SE REFIRIO A SUDAN EN SU DISCURSO FINAL OJALA Y PRONTO SE RESUELVA TODO PROBLEMA PARECE TAN LOGICO QUE EN VEZ DE GASTOS PARA GUERRAS MORTALES SE CONCENTREN EN AYUDA ANTES DE QUE SE OCASIONEN DIFICULTADES IRREMEDIABLES PREVEER ANTES QUE LAMENTAR LOS SALUDO Y MIJITO TE ADMIRO PUES ESTA VEZ TE TOCO LA TECNOLOGIA QUE GRACIAS A DIOS Y LAS BUENAS PERSONAS QUE TE HAN PROPOCINADO EL CONOCIMIENT ME DESPIDO SALUDANDO A ESE BUEN CUARTETO DE AMOR Y GRANDES CUALIDADES DIOS LOS SIGA BENDICIENDO GAB TU FAMILIA ESTA AQUI YA SE VAN POR MIMI Y SE VA ESTE APARATO MUY BUENOS LOS VIDEOS tu mami querida HASTA PRNTITO

  9. Pam B says:

    Hello Gabriel and KTJ,
    We had a Student Task Force intern meeting this afternoon and spent a lot of time talking about all the conference calls you made to STF groups this iACT and how incredible it was to be so connected with you in Chad. We thought we could hear anguish in your voice yesterday and we felt it, too. How long must these people wait to return home, how long must they live in danger, and what more can we do??? When you are home again Gabriel, we want to sit down with you and share these questions with you and find more answers to “what more can we do?” We are committed to that, and you deepen that commitment for us!
    Be safe.
    Paz, Pam

    • Gabriel says:

      Hi Pam B:
      Yes, let’s get together soon to talk about STF and others can find better answers to making a difference now rather than later. The “anguish” that you heard from us on the call is hard to keep hidden. My last day in Farchana was short but not easy. I spent some time alone with Mansur’s mom, inside of his little mud hut, and I can’t even describe how sad I felt there. She need walked me over to the next tent, where an elderly lady was sitting, looking so, so thin and in ragged clothes. Mariam, Mansur’s mom, showed me the woman’s tent, which was falling apart. As I keep saying, these are the lucky people from Darfur. Others wish they had what our friends in the camps have.

  10. maddie says:

    KTJ! Hey i’m Maddie from Akerman middle school. My Geogrophy class and I have been learning about what you do. And I could never do it. I would hate to see all of those people suffer. But I’m sure that it is very interesting and very educational. I really hope that everyone can find some help for these people. Please be safe and come home well.

  11. Andy S says:

    Hello, my name is Andy and I am from Ackerman Middle School. I’m one of the three people that made the Darfur movie (along with Coby and Mitch). I was was wondering, when you first had the idea of helping the people for Darfur, and what motivated you to do it; also I was wondering if you know, or have an idea of when the Genocide is going to end, and what might bring it to its end? Come home safe!!!!!!:)

    • Katie-Jay says:

      Hey Andy!
      I remember you from Ackerman! I hope the genocide ends soon, but it looks like it might take more time to get peacekeepers on the ground! I started working on Darfur in April 2005, much the same way you did. I heard someone speak about it and haven’t stopped since!

  12. teresa says:

    Forgive the long post but interesting article from Aljazeera/English posted yesterday:

    The European Union has launched a long-delayed peacekeeping mission to eastern Chad to protect civilians and aid workers caught up in the violence in Darfur.
    The first of about 3,700 troops making up the force are set to deploy this week and the mission will be one of the largest of its kind ever undertaken by the EU.
    The deployment to Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR) will aim to “contribute to the protection of civilians in danger, particularly refugees and displaced persons”, the EU foreign ministers said in a statement on Monday.

    Troop shortage: The mission will also aim to streamline delivery of humanitarian aid to refugees, the EU said. The force was originally supposed to be sent last year but was delayed by a shortfall of troops and military equipment. Belgium, Poland and France agreed to contribute helicopters and other means of air transport earlier this month.
    The EU force, which has been authorised by the UN, has headquarters outside Paris and is to be made up mostly of French troops under an Irish general’s command.
    A further 13 EU states have pledged to provide troops, an EU diplomat said.
    Austria confirmed on Monday it will send an advance group of 15 personnel this week.

    Neutrality pledge: The first Austrian soldiers would fly into the Chadian capital of N’Djamena on the and would then be transported to a temporary camp in the town of Abeche.
    The foreign ministers said the EU force will conduct its mission “in a neutral, impartial and independent manner,” and will seek to co-operate closely with the governments of Chad and CAR.

    • Katie-Jay says:

      Thanks Tere!
      We are seeing the increase in MINUCAT presence here in Chad – both in the capital and making preparations for bases in E. Chad. Hopefully this begins to bring more stability to the region! Posting good articles is a great way to use this as a forum!

    • Gabriel says:

      Hola Tere:
      There is so much action out here because of the EU force coming in. I also think that all the rebel activity is them trying to hit and make a point before the EU force comes in. I’m really hoping that there is protection and calm in eastern Chad soon.

  13. Shane L. says:

    Dear KYJ,

    This Is Shane L. from Ackerman middle School in Canby, Oregon, USA. You visited here awhile ago, and we had a BLAST!! So anyways Aster you calling the Whitehouse to tell them to put more thought into saving Darfur. I Got to thinking, “Wow, Darfur is in great need, and your doing alot to help it!” I would like to say, Nice Job! Your doing so much to save THOUSANDS of people in a different country. Now thats giving! Well I would like to say once again, Nice Job. I hope everyone in Darfur appericiate’s what you are doing for them! You are doing a nice job, hope you have a fun time.

    From, Shane L.

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