Imagine a Beautiful Boy Dying

 G’s Journal Day 6

Oumar's family 2 As I’m writing this at four in the morning, I’m listening to Instant Karma, the collection of John Lennon songs put together in to an album as a campaign to help Darfur. “Imagine” has come and gone, and now I’m listening to “Beautiful Boy.” At the same time, I’m doing some of the compressing of today’s video. The video shows Oumar, a beautiful boy. His father came to the camp with Oumar, his wife, and other children. He died of illness a year ago. Oumar is ten years old.

IMG_2091Earlier in the day, we met a strong looking man, Adef, with his wife and children. They ran from the destruction of their village. One of their beautiful boys got sick of diarrhea during the escape from Darfur, and they could do nothing to help him, so he died. I’ve been trying to think about what a father does when his four-year boy dies in the desert far from home. They had to keep running. Do you make a quick grave and keep going? What do you tell the other little ones? I could not ask Adef that. My Gabo is four years old.

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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Comments

32 Responses to “Imagine a Beautiful Boy Dying”
  1. Katia Johnstone says:

    Hi Gabe,
    I’ve watched some of the videos and it is hard enough to watch them in the safety and comfort of my own home on the computer, I cannot image what it is like to actually see what you are filming.
    Being able to see and hear the stories of the Darfurian people has brought a new motivation to my activism, and hopefully everyone else who watches the videos. Thank you for doing what most of us do not have the courage to do.

    I can’t wait to talk to you on monday!
    Katia

    • Gabriel says:

      Hello Katia!

      I loved your note. Thank you for the kind words and for allowing yourself to be touched by the stories. More than that, thank you for, after being touched, deciding stand up and act.

  2. Rachel says:

    Hi Gabriel,

    No I can’t imagine losing a child… When was Tracy there? Did he get to meet Oumar’s father? It’s so great that people, who have lots of visibility, are getting involved. More need to follow his footsteps…

    Loved the soccer game.

    Rachel

    be the change you wish to see in the world… -gandhi (one of max’s favorite quotes)

  3. Hey sweetie,

    It’s “Sophie’s Choice” Gabe …. lose one baby in the process of trying to save and protect the other ones.

    And I truly don’t know how a parent gets over a soul-wound that deep …. except to focus on the life force that are the little ones who survived.

    Bitter-sweet Symphony indeed.

    On a lighter note – it must be written that your “Bend it like Beckham” right foot flick to KTJ was very impressive, old boy!!!!

    The kids looked like they loved every second of having you guys there.

    see you tomorrow, G. xxx

    • Gabriel says:

      Hi again, mi amiga Gayle:

      I look forward so much to your posts. We, KTJ and I, probably had even more of a blast than the kids during our game. I just feel privileged to be able to share these moments. It’s also beautiful therapy (for me and I hope for the kids) to play the “beautiful game,” going all out, screaming and laughing.

      About Sophie’s Choice…yeah, I had a hard time writing that tiny little journal entry last night. Again, being exhausted (I did not get to sleep last night) just flips everything around inside of me, and what is being flipped is all of these images, stories, and thoughts that accumulate during the day at the camp.

      As always, thanks for the company and big hug.

  4. JC says:

    Congratulations Gabe and Katie-Jay for doing an outstanding job these last few days. Adam is inspirational, and it brought good feelings when you found Oumar, sorry and tragic to hear of his father as well as that four year old boy dieing in the desert. I hope some how some way this situation stops. Keep up the great work, and I see you are both practicing for that return soccer match at Hermosa Beach.

    jc

    • Gabriel says:

      Hey JC:

      Yeah, what extremes, from hearing stories of deep loss to playing futbol in a very close to beach-sand field. No matter how bad it gets, I truly believe in the power of play. I’m looking forward to some good games back home!

    • Katie-Jay says:

      Hey JC!

      Hope you are practicing as well! I will see you soon on the sand in Hermosa!

  5. Lisa says:

    Hey, Gabriel!

    I got a “sneak preview” of your latest video installement through Gayle’s swift uploading on Ned.com! She’s quick! Nice presentation of the youngsters sent to find Oumar for you to share Tracy’s photos. Do they understand the connection that’s been made to Auburndale High School’s students? We’ll love to hear more on how these Forward sponsorships progress.

    It hurts to know that Oumar’s father might have been saved with needed medical support, and tragic that something like diarreah kills so many in these regions, taking the life of yet another “beautiful boy,” among the many who are displaced. We can hug our loved ones, and say added prayers for medical assistance to reach those in need.

    You and KTJ are real winners . . . in the camps playing football, and in our hearts for all you do.

    Paz,

    Lisa
    San Antonio

    • Gabriel says:

      Hi Lisa!

      I think that the people we talk with understand that there is a group in the United States that are wanting to become their friends and stay in touch. I am sure that they are probably skeptical about expecting too much, so we try not to make promises except for promising a relationship and from there we go forward. Thanks, Lisa!

  6. teresa says:

    Just loved those kids on a mission to find “Oumar”… It’s great what Tracy McGrady is doing, not only financially but connecting kids back home, raising awareness and inspiring others to do the same.
    Gabe, your first time visiting this village, what are the major differences you see with the others you’ve visited as far as living conditions. Does it seem that any one is better off than another? Do you know why Tracy chose this village? Was it the personal connection he felt or just the one he happened to visit?
    Teresa

    • Gabriel says:

      Hi Tere:

      Yes, this camp, Djabal, does seem different than the others I have visited more to the north. The location is different, with a little more vegetation. The tents are not very visible, since this group uses lots of grass and stick to build. The camps up north are in much more unforgiving environments, so like is more difficult for the refugees there. The ones here are not in paradise or even just close to what a complete life should be. You still see many sick children and the clothing is in terrible conditions. I do not know exactly why Tracy picked this camp, but it might have been because it is convenient to travel to. Once you land in Goz Beida, it is just minutes from the town. I’ll ask, though.

  7. mimi schiff says:

    Gabriel,
    You and KT are doing an outstanding job. As a mother I don’t know what I would do if my child died in the desert and I had to go one. This once again shows me the wonder of the people you are fortunate to meet. The scenario is all to familiar in the last five years. It makes me think of the other children that didn’t make the journey and how many parents and families left parts of their hearts and souls in the desert.
    Thank you for once again opening hearts, souls, and minds to the atrocities that must be stopped.
    Mimi Schiff

  8. connie says:

    Hey KTJ and Gabe,
    Your began could have come in very handy! Three days with no internet,and large areas of Monterrey affected.I’m so happy to be connected again,but also it breaks my heart to see and hear the sad stories…I think it is so important when you asked Oumar’s mother :What it is they need.We have to help them but also consider their opinions and make them a part of the process.Many times we want to impose our views and what we think is important.But you ,being there, hearing and seeing their hopes and needs,makes all of SGN projects viable.Understanding where they come from and where they want to go is essential.
    Amor y Paz,Connie.
    P.S. Missing,Joshuas journals.Hope to hear from him soon.
    Monterry,Mexico.

    • Gabriel says:

      Hey Connie:

      Yes, it seems like we had better connectivity than you! But, I bet you that our connection is a lot more expensive than yours! You know, i-ACT came about because we wanted to fill a vacuum, the space never filled by the voice of the victims. We all, anyone involved in trying to help, should be working together with them, not just wanting to impose our own ways and solutions.

    • Katie-Jay says:

      Welcome back Connie!

      The bgan has come in VERY handy out here, so far we haven’t spent time with any real reliable internet connection. I agree that the most important thing is the desires and needs of the refugees and even more specifically communicated to us from them directly. Even one person removed is sometimes too many. I see that here in the camps. The difference of opinion between the refugees and the NGOs that are helping them. I feel so privileged to be able to share their voice.

      Today we met up with Josh and Jeremiah! They have had a little trouble connecting to the internet, but tomorrow you will see a journal from Josh!

  9. Hi Gabriel and Katie-Jay-

    Just wanted to thank you for the entries and videos you’ve posted so far. Keep up the awesome work! Know that your outreach is not only attracting new people to fight for the people of Darfur … it’s also helping ‘first-generation’ activists who need to *see* why they need to keep on fighting.

    Warmly,
    N

    • Gabriel says:

      Nikki S!

      I do try to be aware of the impact our work might be having, but it can get frustrating to be coming back to the area and having hopelessness be a creeping-in theme. I do get energy from seeing young activist being moved and activated by our work, including yours, so I cannot stop, and I still have hope that we will find peace for this area soon.

    • Katie-Jay says:

      Dear Nikki!

      Your comment has reminded me of one of the many reasons why I do what I do. To empower the next generation of activists to not only look at this issue (among others) as a current crisis but to inspire them to hold these stories and the faces of Darfurias in their minds and hearts as they grow in to lawyers, doctors, teachers, engineers, counselors, and activists. By stepping into this world, they will always be humanitarians working for the larger community.

  10. Waltraud Jost says:

    Hello from Germany Gabriel and Katie-Jay,
    was away the last view days and could not write.
    All these sad storys . I can not imagine the pain the people must feel leaving their kid behind dieing. Thinking what if this would be me in that situation. It is just hartbreaking.
    Thanks good there are people like you around trying and trying over and over again to help make everything better for these poor people and kids.
    Talk to you tomorrow
    Love Waltraud

    • Katie-Jay says:

      Greetings Wally!

      Thanks for all your support as we travel through the lives of many new friends! It’s always encouraging to read the words of Darfuri supporters around the world!

  11. Gabo says:

    Hola Mi chavo,

    Que tristeza para esta madre perder asu hijo, se me parte el corazon al oir su historia. A Gabo lo que le gusto fue ver a KTJ y a ti con los ninos en el futbol (dice gooooo KTJ) Ya sabes Gabo se emociona todo.
    Me da alegria verte como disfrutas con los ninos, como siempre dando calidad de tu tiempo.
    Besitos
    Zahara & Gabo

  12. Consuelo says:

    GABRIEL Y KTJ,
    ES CONMOVEDOR SU ENTUSIASMO SIEMPRE EL OIR LAS HISTORIAS DE LAS PERSONAS QUE MUESTRAN EN LOS VIDEOS DIOS PERMITA CON LA AYUDA DE MUCHA GENTE QUE PUEDAN PRONTO MEJORAR SUS VIDAS QUE LO QUE PIDES PARA QUE SEA POSIBLE SUCEDA EN UN FUTURO NO LEJANO QUE USTEDES LOGREN ESE PROPOSITO QUE LOS LLEVA OJALA Y QUE LOS OTROS JOVENES QUE SE ENCUENTRAN YA CON USTEDES IGUALMENTE LOGREN SUS IDEALES CON MI AMOR Y APRECIO LOS SALUDA TU MAMA CONSUELO.

  13. Student Task Force! says:

    Hey Gabriel, we are here in LA, at Wildwood, with members from all the task forces. We really loved seeing you interact with the people, shows us that our actions are actually impacting people. We have been sharing your videos with our schools and communities, and look forward to continuing to do that. Remind the people there in Darfur to stay strong, we are all here supporting you.

    Kanchan
    Katia
    Natalie
    Aaron
    Nikki
    Ginny
    Esme
    Stephanie
    Beth
    Allison
    Robin
    Tricia
    Bryant
    Willow
    Christina
    Pam
    Amy

  14. Diane Koosed says:

    Katie-Jay and Gabriel —

    I just want to connect with you here, on behalf of my little Kol Shalom Darfur Action Group — a hug from them, through me, to you, on to the people in the camps you’re visiting. That’s the connection you’re creating that’s so amazing. I see how much hope your visits bring. With you visiting, they know they are not forgotten. And so, who am I to feel hopeless? Please share for us how angry we are, how sorry and how ashamed … but that we won’t stop working, and we will keep the people there close to our hearts.

    KTJ, I loved listening to you on the EnoughProject phone call today!

    Diane
    Portland, OR

    • Katie-Jay says:

      Dear Diane!

      Thank you for your note and hug! You are the first of the Portland anti-genocide crew to write into the blog. I was beginning to think that you all had checked out! But alas, your hope and energy are very apparent in you note to Gabriel and myself. I will be sure to pass on your words and emotions to the people of Farchana tomorrow morning!

      Much peace and love to everyone in PDX!

  15. Mimi S. says:

    Hi Papi!
    What an awsome video! When I saw the kids play soccer, it reminded me when all of the family plays soccer at the beach. But isn’t the sand very hot, especially since almost all the kids are not wearing shoes.
    PEACE
    MIMI

    • Rachel says:

      Could question Mimi, I was also wondering about that. Is the sand really hot? Also, what time was it? Were the kids supposed to be at school?

      Rachel

  16. Jessica Hala says:

    hey katie and gabriel

    the videos are really emotional. I wish the best of luck for Oumar to become a teacher. I know he will. Well, keep up the great work. Can’t wait till the tomrrow’s video.

    peace n jah bless

    -HALA
    Norwalk

  17. Javi says:

    Gabe and KTJ,

    Mother Teresa said something to the effect of…. all our problems stem from the fact that we have forgotten that we all belong to each other. –Viewing your videos allows all of us to enter into relationship with so many beautiful children “on the other side of world”. The children’s faces, as well as their life stories, lovingly and boldly prove to us that those children and their families belong to us and we belong to them.

    Your leadership is building a transformative movement that certainly will help bring a righteous outcome for the people of Darfur. And in the process it is altering the lives of us who are fortunate to accompany you in this beautiful journey of struggle.

    Gabe, this is your forth year of stepping out to the margins and inviting us to stand with you. By doing this you help all of us come to the understanding that it is at the margins where we discover our own center.

    Much Love mi hermano and KTJ. Be safe!

    Javi

    • Katie-Jay says:

      Hola Javi!
      Your thoughts brought tears to my eyes this evening. We do forget, so easily, that we are all connected, and if we have failed one, then we have failed us all. People often ask me why I do this. And I think when I push myself beyond my own limitations and awareness, I am closer to my own center than I ever could be anywhere else – mentally or physically. Thank you for reminding me, when I needed it, why I am doing what I am doing. Sometime I lose sight of it all.

    • Gabriel says:

      Hey Jav:

      I liked what you said about how understanding the margins helps us discover our own center. Eastern Chad feels so much like the margins. It feels that way to me because of how remote it is and different in comfort from my own world. The people here, though, are very much the center. I’m the outsider here, but they make me feel like family. I hope that others get a little feel of that and are moved to act.

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