HOPE

Donkey and UNHCR 2 We are leaving later than usual today but with the hopes that we will stay later in to the afternoon, as we are the convoy, that is to say the only car following our armed escort. We make the usual stop at the security office, tell them that we would like to stay until 2pm, and we are off! Our agenda includes many stops – but the first is Adam! Many of you might know him from “When the Devil Came on Horseback” and you will meet him again in today’s short video. We ask one gentleman at the school about Adam’s whereabouts – he points up a row and says “row here, end,” his arm reaches out moving up and down, “tree” his arm motions left. Okay, lets go. We pass a few donkeys, one explaining rather loud that he wants us out of his personal space, or maybe he wants us to untie him…hmmm…trying to not be too loud as most of our video already has me laughing in the background (good or bad?). We approach the end and another man appears “Adam?” we ask. He points and says something that we clearly don’t understand – he takes us passed a tree and to the left.

Adam and Library And there he is, Adam, a community leader, a teacher, an inspiration and a motivation to stand taller and stronger with the people of Darfur. We sit with him many hours, talking about the state of schools, his family, the library that he is building for the community and hopelessness that lies in the hearts of many who have been living here for three, four, five years. We begin to tell him of messages from you. We show him Macy Gray’s message of love and encouragement. We show him footage from i-ACT2 with Stacey and several From America with Love videos. We listen to the song that Greg Lawson from Redding, CA wrote and which has been shown all over the US. Tears slowly begin to flow down his checks. I hold my tears back – another time, another place, right? I have that feeling in my stomach, like when you go down an elevator 32 floors and land in the garage, Level 2, with a slight bounce up – your stomach a floor below.

“No hope except the international community. Without your help we don’t see any hope at all. We are desperate in need…Our people are dying everyday.” I am moved by Adam’s honesty. His willingness to share his life, his dreams and the progress he has made to make them real. But I also feel ashamed. Most people who know me well have told me on a number of occasions that I need to take a break. To go out, enjoy myself, stop looking at my blackberry, go to the coast, do something for myself. And I admit, I do these things. And I know that I do a lot for the people of Darfur. But we need to be doing more. As Adam said, the international community is their only hope. We need to be doing more. Please, today, tomorrow, and in your daily life take action, hold Adam, Yakoub, Fatina and the families in your hearts and minds. They are Us.

Together We Can Change the World,
KTJ

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In response to a few of Connie’s questions from yesterday regarding the general state of the camp:

It seems like there is enough food both for those who have money to buy small amounts from the market and those who get food from Secadev and World Food Program (WFP). Mostly we saw sorghum in the camp both raw and cooked. Adam mentioned that about 100 of the 14,000 have jobs of some sort. In the market for refugees (separated from that for the villagers living nearby) there was few fresh vegetables and limited beans. Yakoub said that mostly it is the barter system rather than monetary exchange. Both community leaders described the limited water available for the refugees and one aid worker described a water pipe being dug up during the night and stolen, which makes one or more of the water stations out of order until a new, very expensive pipe arrives. Overall, as you have seen, the refugees are building. After five years and very little change, they have decided to make their stay more comfortable, more permanent.

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.

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9 Responses to “HOPE”
  1. YL says:

    Dear KTJ,

    You are a complete dynamo! As are all the amazing women in the SGN team.

    YL

    ps. Message for you under Gabriel’s post. Sorry, I merged my comment to both of you all in one.

  2. Meron says:

    Dear Katie-Jay,

    Nice to ‘meet’ you. Thank you for being there with my friend Gabriel. Look out for one another and be safe! I admire, greatly, what the two of you and of course, the rest of the i-ACT team, are doing for the people of Darfur. I will be following along on your journey from here in Canada.

    Be well,
    Meron

  3. Kathleen Scott says:

    Hi my KTJ,
    When I was in Morocco, i was sitting alone at dinner one night and a woman in full veil came up, put her hand on my arm and said “The women of Morocco are with you, you are not alone”.

    Well, the women of Darfur are not alone, the women of my circle in the OC are with them -and with you! I too am ashamed we have not done more for these abandoned people. I am proud of you,
    Love,
    Ommi

    • Katie-Jay says:

      Hey Ommi!

      Thanks for all your support! Overall the women here have nothing to do and after only being at two camps so far, I fear this is how it will be in the rest of them. But sitting and talking with the women is so empowering. To hear their stories and really just to hold their hands. With you forever!

  4. Isaac says:

    From your cousin…
    Let those tears flow KTJ. Show them your Heart. What else can you do?
    My mom and I wrote letters to the president last night, and today I talked to an old professor of mine at the college here. I wrote him an email with the website and some info, and he said he would forward it to all the faculty he might get to listen. My mom and I were also wondering about setting up penpals with my little sisters’ fifth grade class; any ideas or input or who might I talk to?
    In Solidarity,
    Isaac

    • Katie-Jay says:

      Isaac and Sharon!

      Thank you for sharing your voice with the people of Durango! Ultimately, your voice is that of Adam’s, Yakoub, Fatine, Asha, Amina, and all the others you will meet while I am out here. We are on our way to the Southern part of Chad tomorrow to visit a few camps near Goz Beda. I don’t feel like I am ready to leave the people I have met over the last few days, but I know I will be back! Getting your posts makes me feel wonderful! Thank you!!!!

  5. Irais says:

    Hola KTJ

    You guys are doing a terrefic job every day! Today’s video was very touching I hope that by watching this video more people will do more for the refugues.

    Ps: con amor, Zahara, Mimi, Gabo, Daniel, and Irais

  6. Jessica Hala says:

    hey Gabriel

    u came and helped my Social Justice club at Norwalk High set up for CAMP DARFUR in Nov. or Dec. of 2007

    Thank u so much; the students were so shocked.

    Also, i cant believe u met Adam, i remember him from duh film “THE DEVIL CAME ON HORSEBACK”
    Adam made me cry when i first heard him on camera
    if u ever see him again, tell him dat my prayers are with him, his family and Darfur and dat i will always remember him

    God Bless u for ur work

    i’ll keep on spreading the word

    -HALA

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