10 + 2 = a chance to increase urgency more than 20%!

G’s Journal—Day 9

Our plan was 10 days of i-ACT, but today is day 9 already, and we still have three days left in camps before returning to N’Djamena on our way home. The last day will be in Camp Gaga, where little Leila lives. I haven’t asked the rest of the team, but I’m thinking that we’ll be doing 12 consecutive days of i-ACT this time.

I’m not going to write too much about the specific people we saw today, since the video can tell that story. I will say that it was an exciting, emotional day at Farchana, seeing most of our old friends. It is great to see them, but they are still refugees.

When our SGN team meets, has conference calls, and gathers through e-mails, we regularly refocus our efforts by debating whether what we are doing is the best for the people we are trying to help, the survivors of Darfur. It is not an easy question to answer. We do not want to get stuck on figuring out what’s best for us as a group; we want to be light and streamline and effective in our contribution, even if small, to changing the way the world responds to genocide, starting right now.

One thing I mention at times is that I try to act with the urgency I would act with if it was my family sitting out here in the middle of the desert or, even worse, if they were still inside of Darfur. I’m not sure that I have been living up to that.

I’m having a hard time writing about this because it’s not all clear in my mind, and I think that is part of the frustration. I know that what we do with i-ACT, Camp Darfur, and our other SGN projects are the right, needed things to do. But, I also feel that I should be acting with more urgency and intensity, as if it was my family out there in the desert. It cannot be business as usual, as genocide is taking place.

With SGN, I was a part of more than seventy events across the US last year. We set up Camp Darfur more than fifty times in all kinds of communities—churches, high schools, university, town squares, State capitols, and parks. It is rewarding to see people moved to action; it makes me feel good, but it’s not about me feeling good. I just don’t want these actions to be routine. Samantha Power says that we must make louder noise. John Prendergast says that we must increase the heat. These increases cannot be gradual and linear. We must make it hotter and louder each and every day, many times over!

There is absolutely no excuse for what is happening in Darfur to still be going on after five years. Many will make an argument for why there’s nothing we can do about it—that it’s complex and inevitable. I don’t buy it, and our leaders around the world are the first to blame for allowing hundreds of thousands to die and millions to live less than human lives. After our leaders, it is then us, all of us, that are to blame. I know that guilt is not the best technique to convince others to become involved, but I guess right now I’m not in recruitment mode. Anyway, this entry is way too long now, and, after reading it, it’s not a very good one.

Help me out, though. Give me ideas on how we can increase the urgency of the activism out there. How can we get our leaders to take responsibility? Our friends here in the camps believe in us. They speak with urgency. Lives are being lost today.

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: Day 9: Jan 27, 2008 · Tags: , , ,

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32 Responses to “10 + 2 = a chance to increase urgency more than 20%!”
  1. Hi Sweet!

    One thing that came out of the meetings/letter campaign (re:LRA/Uganda) that John, Ryan Gosling and Betty B. participated in around June of 2007 was the fact that Senators and Congress-persons (!) really do read the call sheets and letters that land on their desks.

    The very first thing I would do is have a fund-raising drive to gather the funds to put together a 4 x DVD package of all the i-ACTs and send it – registered mail – to every bum on a seat on Capitol Hill, every Democratic and Republican official working on the Presidential nomination campaigns and the representative to the UN Security Council member states….. all of ’em.

    At the beginning of each DVD, have an introduction by Samantha or JP or …. George – I’ve no doubt they would do it in a heartbeat.

    Something like this could be “announced” in an Op-Ed on the day the DVDs are delivered by…..Nick Kristof? (NYT piece would be a nice addition)

    You know Gabe – this really could be done quite quickly. It’s “call in favours” time – media contacts all of it.

    Put me down for $100 USD for the mail-out.

    Hugs and love,

    Gayle Maree xxxx

    • Katie-Jay says:

      Gayle!
      Great idea! I had a moment today to think about the small package and note we could send out! We will talk more about it when we get back. I have met Kristof a few times, and can get a few of his friends to perhaps ask!

    • Gabriel says:

      Amiga Gayle:
      I have been taking with KTJ, and we just have to move on your idea about sending DVD’s to our congress. We will do this. We will send each a personal note asking them to please watch the videos with their families. Thank you, Gayle, and I knew you were kidding when telling me to keep up with my posting of journal, but sometimes my responses come out flat and might sound too serious and not like I would like it to, like this one kinda! What were we talking about? :) Well, smiley face or not, I very much love you and your spirit, so keep it coming!

  2. PS: Regarding the commisioning for a house for Fatna.

    Go and kiss J & J …. seriously….go and kiss’em, from Oz!!!

    PPS:

    It’s nearly Leila cutie-pie time …. enjoy every second of that, dear!

    G. :)

  3. Kathleen Scott says:

    Hi Gabriel,
    Every minute of your day is dedicated to this, I don’t think you could be doing more. It’s up to the rest of us who know now because of your efforts.

    The presidential campaign has the attention of the mainstream press in America. We must dog every presidential candidate, publically at their campaign trail appearances, with the question: “Why aren’t you doing something NOW to stop genocide, not when you become president, but NOW?”

    Salaam,
    Kathleen

  4. connie says:

    Gabe,
    I’m happy we are going to see more of our friends!Yes we have to keep pushing to make more people aware and act,but for the time being: CAN WE GET THEM SOME SOAP!!!!!!!!
    I do think that we also have to concentrate time to making their lives a little more human.
    Please make a list of what is urgent and possible to deliver.J & J did not miss the opportunity to make an immediate differance,their quick response to some one in need is
    inspireing!I I will think of ways that my place here where I live and with whom I socialize and work can contribute.
    Amor y Paz,Connie.
    Monterrey,Mexico.

  5. Waltraud Jost says:

    Hi Gabe,
    the way you wrote today you seem to be very depressed meaning more than usual.
    You are doing such a wonderful job.
    You are trying so hard.
    I can not think of anything more you could do.
    Will be in touch.
    Love Waltraud

  6. Amy says:

    I wish finals weren’t distracting so many of our wonderful Student Task Force activists! They always have such great ideas…

    I am so glad that you are extending iAct and relish every word you write and every second of video you post. I know it doesn’t seem like enough (we all feel this way from time to time), but it makes a big difference in many peoples’ lives, both in Chad and across the globe.

    Thank you Gabriel (and team) for your tireless efforts!

  7. Coby From Ackerman Middle School says:

    Hi im coby Canby, Oregon, U.S.A… I have been seeing your webpage in Tony Crawfords class every day for the past week and I thought i Might write a comment…. I also made the movi taht you were going to put on your web page along with Andy And Mictch. We are all so excited that you are putting that on your web page i also have a question… Is there anyone there that has been attacked by the Janjaweed soldiers and came to that camp after the attack ? And also have the janjaweed ever attacked a refugee camp ? Thanks again for all that you have done for our school and thanks for the webpage movie. Thanks agian

    -Coby of Ackerman Middle School
    Canby , Oregon , USA

    • Katie-Jay says:

      Hi Coby!
      Thanks for making the video and I will make sure it gets added to our website when I return home! I haven’t forgotten about it! Every single person who is living in the refugee camps here in Chad was attacked by Janjaweed militia men. Many times the camps are reattacked by local Chadians, janjaweed, Chadian government soldiers and other rebel groups. The camps are not safe and the volunteer security groups who help maintain the camps do not have what they need to protect it. Thanks for your questions, keep on reading and spreading the word!

  8. Rachel says:

    Hi Gabriel, KTJ, J & J.

    Hip-hip-Hurrrrrray for getting Fatna a new place to live!!!!! I want to call it house, I guess it is home for them…for the moment (yikes).

    I’m so glad you’re doing two extra days, I was starting to think… What about little Leila? Can’t wait to see her smile… I hope you can find her.

    I was also happy to see Mansur’s family receiving the t-shirts. Do you know who else went to Darfur with Mansur? I hope many big and strong adults…

    Anywayzzzzz, as you know who would say, “it’s political obviously” We need to bombard, as Gayle says, “…every bum on a seat on Capitol Hill, every Democratic and Republican official working on the Presidential nomination campaigns and the representative to the UN Security Council member states….. all of ‘em.” We just all need to CARE more…

    Keep your heads up, stay strong… I know you all are…

    Take it easy, :)

    Rachel (Torrance, CA)

    • Katie-Jay says:

      Hey Rachel!
      A few people went home to Darfur for a little while. Mariam, Mansur’s mom said that Darsalam and Mansur went by bus with several others from the camp, including his brother. I agree with Gayle also! I think we are going to do it – send them all a DVD and note asking them to watch it with their family. It’s a great idea!

    • Gabriel says:

      Hey Rachel:
      Yes, it is “obviously political,” and I think that we need to get to the “nitty-gritty” of this. Bombarding our leaders in a continuous, relentless attack of messages from constituents is needed. It cannot be in waves anymore; it has to be a non-stop. I’m sorry that we were not able to get out to Leila to see her smile again. I was so down yesterday at not being able to get to camp Gaga. I wanted to see Leila, but also, if I’m going to be in Eastern Chad, I want to be visiting the camps.

  9. teresa says:

    Hi Gabe, KTJ, J & J,
    Thinking along the same lines as everybody else that has posted here today.
    And we also really need to get the media to give more coverage to the situation. The media has so much influence on people. Maybe with Macy Gray coming on board and the project with the NBA players the media will pickup on that. If these videos were shown on Oprah that would make a world of difference. So the same packages Gayle is suggesting should be sent to all the major talk shows, new shows, etc. If just one picks up on it, it could be huge exposure. America is a compassionate country but most people are oblivious to what’s happening in other parts of the world and they don’t know how to take action unless they are told what they can do to make a difference.
    However, we know it’s not going to be something that will be fixed overnight even if action is taken so whatever can be done to bring immediate relief to the refugees is also important. I’m sure coming up with the basic needs like soap and blankets is not too much of an issue, but then you have all the red tape to get the goods to the camps.
    What does the UNHCR suggest??
    Teresa

    • Katie-Jay says:

      Hola Tere!
      I agree that we need to get more people talking about it. Get it on more talk show and mainstream media stations. And I think the angle that we have is the right angle – the personal stories of survivors – the ones still in danger that we can help. UNHCR thinks what we are doing is great and to keep on doin’ it! They are in awe of the way we have been able to reach out and fundraise for the schools. They don’t have much suggestions for action items as they have to remain neutral in it all in order to continue their work on the ground in Sudan and here in Chad. They are caught in between and many workers here on the ground are just using all their energy to keep the refugees alive. It’s a hard situation out here and trying to think creatively about how to get more people involved is getting tougher for me personally. Being out here makes me more dedicated, but all the other emotions come flowing also!

    • Gabriel says:

      Hola Tere:
      You are so right in that America is very compassionate, but America needs to be aware and engaged to be able to act with compassion. In our little way, we’ve been working so hard to make i-ACT a vehicle for others to reach the people in the camps. I’m also hoping so much that Macy and Tracy and others that attract attention will help us out in reaching many more people that are willing to act.

  10. Rachel says:

    Ok, George just mentioned that “The United States opposes the GENOCIDE in Sudan” and he got an overwhelming standing ovation… but he’s done this before… What we want to know is WHAT IS HE GOING TO DO ABOUT IT…??? ##%@! His speech was very, UGH… no real content…

    Oh, and what I meant by “bombard” on my previous note, to bombard with more calls, mroe letters, etc… even LOVE. (not bombs–Peace)

    Peace in Darfur!
    Peace in Darfur!

    Rachel

  11. Zahara, Mimi y Gabo says:

    Hola Papi & KT-J,
    I cant believe tht the refugees don’t even have enough soap so that Mansur had to go back to Sudan to get some for his family. When you gave Mansur’s mother the t-shirt with Mansur’s drawing on it I could see the smile on her face. She seemed really happy to the t-shirt because it had her son’s drawing on it.
    PS: Daniel says that he is with you during the journey and says GOOD LUCK!!
    PEACE
    MIMI
    Si todos en casa estamos con ustedes mi chavo, que mala honda que se les acabo la comida. (te voy a esperar con mucha) yo se que no es facil para ti tambien ver como va empeorando la vida de las personas que se quedan en los campamentos.
    Gabo cada dia pregunta cuando puede ver a Leyla y pregunta aquien diste sus regalos? aver si le puedes escribir. Tambien esta contando los dias que faltan para que tu lleges, yo crei que llegabas el 5 y Tete me dice que llegas el 1?
    Bueno muchos saludos de tus amores.
    Z, M & G

    • Katie-Jay says:

      Hola Z, M, lil G and D!
      Thanks for all your support while we are out here. I realize it must be hard to have your Papi so far away and for such a long time. I know he misses you all and can’t wait to play a game of futbol on the sand in Hermosa with the whole family. Abrazo! KTJ

    • Gabriel says:

      Hola Zahas, Mimi, Gabito, Irais y Daniel:
      Pues aca trite por que no pude ir a ver a Leila. Gabito, si le dimos de tus regalos a cuatro ninos y se que van a estar tan contentos. Le dejamos unos carritos y dinosaurio a Mansur y su hermanito. La mama de mansur se emociono tanto y dijo gracias a Gabo muchas veces. Tambien le di regalitos de Gabo a Aljafis, un ninito tan bonito que siempre nos sigue. Tambien le toco regalito de Gabo a Saad, el hijoto de Fatna que tambien es lindo. Todos te mandan las gracias, Gabito! Mimi, si es muy triste que ni tienen suficiente jabon ni suficiente de nada; nadamas tienen mucha arena y mas arena por todos lados. Vamos a seguir trabajando para que tengan paz en Darfur y puedan regresar a vidas completas. Zahas, no sabes como se me antoja tu comida y las salsas…wow. Los extrano tanto a todos. Muchos saludos a Irais y Daniel tambien. Besos, papi.

  12. teresa says:

    Zahara,
    Salen de alla el 1o. y llegan aqui el 2 de Feb.
    Tete

  13. Katia J says:

    Hi Gabriel and KT-J,

    I just wanted to say thank you so much for calling into today! I was watching my peers faces around the speaker phone and everyone was very touched by your stories and words, as was I. It was great to hear that our video was shown, i’m so happy that a family got to see it. The differences between life in LA and life in Darfur are so stark, its hard to believe we live on the same planet.
    Thank you so much for your devotion to Darfur and human rights, you truely are an inspiration!
    Katia

    • Katie-Jay says:

      Katia!
      I am so glad that the call worked out! Some have not due to the internet connection and being so far from anything! It is groups like yours that are making a difference! Please know that all your efforts are felt even here in Chad. Darfurians know you care! Keep up all your efforts!
      Paz para todos! ktj

    • Gabriel says:

      Hello Katia J:
      Thank you and the other Student Task Force students for wanting to be involved in something that is not all pleasant and fun. You are so right about the stark differences between our lives in the US and for those of the survivors of Darfur. We are so privileged and it would take us to give up so little to help so many. It would not even be a sacrifice. If we all cared about everyone around the world and were willing to act even minimally, suffering from preventable causes would take a sharp dive.

  14. Olivia G says:

    Dear Gabriel and Katie Jay,
    I also wanted to say thank you for calling in today, I am part of the Wildwood student task force and was on the other line listening to your answers and asking questions. You truly were inspiring and amazing to listen to. I cannot even tell you how much we are all impacted by your dedication and drive to help. You have prompted my personally to want to get more involved and do whatever I can and I just wanted to thank you again.
    Olivia

    • Katie-Jay says:

      Olivia!
      I am so glad that we were able to connect with you! I have heard so much about Wildwood’s commitment to Darfur and the safe return of the thousands of refugees living in Chad! It is truly people like you and your classmates that keeps me going on the toughest of days! Stay connected! Peace, ktj

    • Gabriel says:

      Hi Olivia:
      As I said to Katia, you at the STF are to be thanked because being so young you are still willing to step up and embrace responsibility. I look forward to working next to all of you to make a difference soon.

  15. Lisa Goldner says:

    Gabriel, at this point resorting to using guilt tactics, or whatever else it takes, seems fully justified. It would be great if everyone could make the statement, “i-ACT . . . do you?”

    I think Gayle’s pitch for the DVDs with a blast of accompanying media coverage, AND plenty of follow-up interviews and reporting on the response of the recipients, would make some headway. Especially, in this presidential election year!

    We also need more shame to be placed on the Olympic Games corporate sponsors, for their refusal to take action to sway China’s calous stubborness. Can’t we get more athletes and celebrities to rally on this effort? Let’s hire some of those agencies putting together the negative campaign ads for the presidential candidates and go after these big guys doing bad business for Darfur. Could we flood the offices of these sponsors with postcards using the photos of the refugees in their camp surroundings — “We have dreams, too.”

    I already have clear visions of your hearty welcoming reception in Gaga . . . am so glad you’ve added more time for those who have little more than just idle time beyond their daily fight to survive. Tell little Leila we’ve got postcards and flyers with her smile! We all want to give her and all of these Darfuris more reason for those smiles. BTW, our visiting priest from Canada will be making sure he takes Leila’s smile and bigger message home.

    Blessings,

    Lisa
    San Antonio

    • Gabriel says:

      Hola Lisa:
      If we had a lot more Lisa’s all around the US and the world, we’d be having a huge, immediate impact on this crisis. Thanks for all the suggestions for actions and for doing so much in your own community. I’m sorry and sad that I was not able to get to Gaga.

  16. marv steinberg says:

    Went down to SF to visit with my son’s family for a couple of days. Watched my awesome 12 year old grandson lead his school basketball team to another win–they haven’t lost in two years and he plays a hell of a game. Talked to him about Darfur. Then came home and caught up on your goings. When I see your video and read your journal, I get upset and I get emotional and frustrated, but I also get angry. Gabriel, we need to reach out more to the kids–the college students, the teen-agers, and the tweens. They have the power to do something–not only in Darfur but to prevent future genocides. And we need to keep up the pressure on our Congresspersons. We marched on our local conservative Republican’s office twice last January. We met with him personally in the Spring, and kept up a dialogue with him, his local rep, and his foreign policy advisor in DC during the summer. Darfur Scores rated him a “D” when we began. By the end of 2007, he was rated a “C” and received an “A” for the year. Also we need to make sure we know what the candidates will do about Darfur and then go out and see that one of those who would take stronger action is elected. Go to http://www.askthecandidates.org. Click on 2008 Elections and then Candidate Profile. There are some real distinctions between them. Then go out and work for your candidate in the the next few weeks. I spent 3 1/2 hours on a phone bank Saturday afternoon. And do the same when the general election campaigning begins in the Fall. Let’s elect a President and a Congress that will do something about Darfur! You keep up your good work. Our prayers are with you. God bless.

    • Gabriel says:

      Marv!
      Thank you for all of that great information. You have done such effective work in Redding. Having your congressperson go from a D to an A is just incredible and a testament to your dedication. I’m looking forward to coming up to Redding soon.

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