05 Feb 08 – Morning in Libreville

The clouds roll in heavy over the ocean and reach the base with a scattered thunder. The sounds of Gabon, including drumming last night, are refreshing after the sounds of war. We are waiting for our flight to Paris, then to LA. For my sisters and brothers in Portland, I will be home on the 12th (anyone up for an airport run and a Maker’s & ginger?).

My emotions have been all over the place the last few days and I cannot help but think about what it all would be like if I had been walking for 10 days with several kids, a few of which might need to nursed, with no military biscuits or bottled water. Every time something in me shifts, from emotions of anxiety to calmness, to annoyance, to fear to feeling loved and supported by all of you, I cannot help but think how much more they are amplified for the refugees, and how consistent they have been for five years.

Waiting in line in the mess hall for mystery meat encrusted in something yellow…the first food distribution with crowds willing to trample one another to reach a grain for the family. Waiting, waiting and waiting for help from other people…Adam and Fatna echoed one another’s frustration with the international community and begged for more help. I am lucky enough to have regular internet connection to you…but for our friends in the camps, the connection to the outside world mostly consists of aid workers and SGN visiting the camps. Feeling my community through words and emails…remembering the numerous “Shookraan” (thank you’s) we received from refugees after we passed on your words and emotions to them.

It’s been rather hard to find a place to recharge here on base, but once we did, I had a chance to read all of your comments. And I am overwhelmed by the movement that has been formed and momentum we have created, you have created, as a community. I feel your words in my heart and I long for a hug from many of you. Especially my mom and those of you in Portland, who are too many to name here, who have always supported me in anything I have done and who I know will be waiting for my return once I leave LA.

Thank you again for all your support and action that you have produced around the world, our community has grown significantly because of you.

The rain here as stopped for the moment and we are checking on flights. It’s 9am and there hasn’t been much movement outside in the large field where registration tents have been set up for the past few days. In the lounge we were taken to find electricity, we are watching “Little Miss Sunshine,” albeit in French, which makes me laugh and remember home. We will keep everyone updated on our progress and we will see you soon.

A special note to Mimi, Gabo, Irais, and Zahara: I am sorry that my words in my last entry upset you. I know that Gabriel is in a very different situation than myself. And the SGN team will think very carefully about what our next moves will be. Again, I am sorry that they affected you the way they did, please accept my apologies.

PS: I am grounded anyways, in LA and in Portland!

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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24 Responses to “05 Feb 08 – Morning in Libreville”
  1. Kathleen Scott says:

    HI Ninnie!
    Woke up in the middle of the night and had to check your website. Love you much. Ommie

    • Kathleen Scott says:

      Also- we are organizing so the Darfurians are not forgotten. There is still much press coverage of the situation and I consider it a victory that every time the press is now mentioning the refugees and how they are affected! Good Work. Ommi

  2. ashis brahma says:

    Hi Katie-J

    Time for a hug

    Thiking about going to Cameroon

    as a refugee to help other refugees

  3. African says:

    I am sick of these white kids who come and strut their privilege in our face, in the name of saving Africa. Have you saved yourself from your mediocrities first before claiming to have the destiny of an entire people in your hands?

    Are you worth more than the people dying in Darfur or Chad? But being true to your cowardly self, you’re the first to save your skin, fleeing with your tail in between your legs.

    I know your type. Full of contempt, condescension, patronage, ridicule towards the “lesser” mortals of the earth.

    Please go back to your “first world” country and leave us alone. Don’t come here to add insult to injury. Your country’s oil interests and manipultations are the underlying reasons for all the instability in resource-rich countries.

    Please be happy be stay in the US and feel smug but completely anonymous, you celebrity-seeking nonentity.

    • Chuck says:

      Point taken, but don’t you see any value in drawing attention to the problems of Chad and Darfur which would otherwise gets less coverage in the West? The key challenge will be to provide accurate analysis in addition to the dramatic interest of their story. This I hope and trust will be the task of this group when they return and in the future. If we are going to change the behavior of our government, we need information about what it is doing and what changes must be made that will actually help the people.

      Stay in touch, African, don’t just send burn emails. I believe this group is serious and is not merely a tourist service.

    • connie says:

      Dear Africa,
      I am Mexican,live in Mexico and was at the refugge camps in Chad in July 07.Returning from a caotic country back to a caotic country also made me think of how to reconcile my love for Africa when there is so much to do here!I have made a few changes but yes I must say that I am very priveledged to have so many opportunities that many here and there do not have,and for that reason with those opportunities that have come to me I would like to do my little bit to help there and here.I know where you are coming from when you talk about the arrogance of some countries but please do not put everyone on the same boat .We are not all what our countries policies stand for.Please stay in touch and maybe we can be friends and look for better ways of helping without offending the people that we have come to love so much.And by the way Gabriel Stauring the director of StopGenocideNow. is also Mexican.
      Amor y Paz,Connie

    • Chelsea M. says:

      dear african I have a question for you! You’ve never met me but if I said that I want to do a canned food drive to put food on your table you would probably exept it. But if I said I was from the U.S.A. would you not just because I’m from America? We do’nt go to places like chad to make you feel like we are so much better than you but we come because we want to help you with problems you have!!! So please do’nt be against us for trying to help people in your country survive!!!! Another thing, we do’nt come over there for free eather, we pay our way over out of our own consideration to help you guys out. So like we say PLEASE DO’NT JUDGE A BOOK BY IT’S COVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Shane L. says:

      Yo African, your saying you hating us? After what my school and I are trying to do for your country? We are Trying school-wide to get canned food for your country cause we care about the people there. And hey, your saying we are “Celeberty-Seeking”? Haha! you make me laugh! Were Helping your country cause we care about people starving and dying in another country in our same world. And if your coming on here dissing Katie Jay and Gabrieal because there coming to YOUR country, helping YOU and YOUR people. Also you know what I don’t get? Why come here on this website? Just to diss the people trying to help you? And also you know what’s weird? Your saying we are waving are privlage in your guy’s face? How are you on the Internet? That’s some Privlage that your getting that MILLIONS of people in Africa and Darfur don’t have, And I guess your waving YOUR privlage to everyone in Africa and Darfur as well. Us as people in America are trying so hard to help Darfur amd the rest of Africa. Like Chelsea said, Don’t Judge a book by it’s cover.

      And for KTJ…

      Dear KTJ,

      You went through quite a battle, and all for saving people in Darfur and Chad. You are such influence to everyone in Ackerman Middle School here in Canby, OR. I hope your return to the USA Safely, and maybe even Stop here in Canby, OR. One more time. And I also have a Question. Was that one of the most Fearful things in your life ever to happen to you in your life? It would be mine lol.

      Sincerly,

      Shane Lee

  4. tomfrog says:

    OK, African, I don’t know particularly SGN but your comment is not very fair… You’re obviously very angry (and you have the right to be so) but don’t focus your hatred towards the ones who try to do a (even very) little something.
    What do those people have to do ? Complain all their lives about being born in the US and how bad that is (I don’t agree on that) and how bad some people behaved with Africa ?
    You can’t allways take the blame for what some ancestors of yours did.

    As I said, I don’t know Gabriel or Katie-Jay or anyone else here but I’m sure they don’t considere holding the destiny of an entire people in their hands… it is kind of manichean and that’s not a way to make the debate go on (sorry, as you read, I’m sometimes confuse about the english language…)

    “Your country’s oil interests and manipultations are the underlying reasons for all the instability in resource-rich countries.”

    I totally agree with you and I add that this is not only the US’ oil interest etc…, my country for exemple is one of those “first world” countries you talk about. But again, as you didn’t choose to be born in Africa, one can’t blame himself for being an American just for the idea of it… So you say we have to shut our mouth and use a lot of oil and things without opposition ? Wouldn’t it be more constructive to say something about that and try, for exemple, not to use a car ? This is just a silly exemple but I hope you get the idea.

    And about saving their skins… do you want them to face either the chadian army or the “rebels” ? Please, a lot of people are willing to save their skins right now and that’s just human. If you are lucky enough to have a chopper offer to you to do so, you’re not a coward by accepting it.

    Please, don’t be mad at these guys… if they wanted celebrity, it would certainly be more efficient to try a game on TV or something then going in Africa.

    Again, sorry for my broken english…

    I, for my part, am happy to see you safe.

  5. Tony Crawford says:

    Hello Katie-Jay,

    We are relieved to hear of your evacuation from Chad. We are thankful for your safety.

    We wish you an uneventful flight home. We look forward to having you return to our school to share your stories and plan for future support for the Darfur refugees.

    With our admiration.

    Tony Crawford
    Ackerman Middle School
    Canby, Oregon, USA

  6. Brenda Hodges says:

    KTJ,

    I think Matt would be dissappointed if he couldn’t pick you up since he was the one to drop you off for this crazy adventure. Give us a ring when you are in CA.

    Glad you are safe.

    Love, Matt and Brenda

  7. Diane Gandee Sorbi says:

    Hi KTJ,

    You and the rest of the team have amazing attitudes and lots of courage. I’m wishing you and the others a quick and safe return. Take care of yourselves.

    Sincerely,

    Diane

  8. Ricky says:

    African-good point, however I think that your idea of what they are doing is a little off and I think that your way of presenting it was judgmental. I don’t believe they are there to strut their privileges in your face or to get attention, the only attention being sought there is to the refugees being affected by the Genocide in Darfur. I doubt you can argue that more accurate coverage there will result in anything other than more efforts to save the people who need it. Another point- to blame us for the mistakes of out government isn’t fair, I agree that some of the big problems in the oil rich countries of Africa probably wouldn’t have happened if the United States was to stay out of the way but that isn’t SGN’s fault. In the end I think that your overall point is true, I support SGN completely and think that at the moment they’re out best bet against the Darfur issues but I was surprised to see their response when the fighting broke out. If I interpreted your comment correctly you had the same thoughts I did with more anger, I too thought it a little hypocritical to go to these people in need and caring so much yet being very upset when they were forced out with much help and probably more gear than the refugees got when they left. Katie-Jay acknowledged this and compared the two but it did seem a little off compared to the notes posted while they were there.

    For Gabriel and Katie-Jay, I am incredibly impressed, what you are doing is more than I can imagine, and even though I do agree with some of Africans points I think that in all you guys are doing a wonderful job and I am sorry you were stuck in the middle of that battle. I am from Tony Crawford’s class and while we were discussing the issue you got into, two things came up. One, what happened to Chad? As Mr. Crawford and I discussed it we both believed that Chad was a secure country and that few suspected there to be a dangerous rebel army. Second, you guys were totally victims of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, it is hard for me to put myself in your shoes and if I did it probably still wouldn’t make sense. I can imagine that last few days have been a little surreal, going from an innocent activist trying to help refugees of an unfair Genocide to being in a line of gunfire yourself must be a little hard to experience I think you are both very brave and hope you, the refugees from Darfur, and the citizens of Chad who are now in a bit of a revolution themselves all end up safe.

    Sincerely,

    Ricky

    Sincerely
    Ricky

  9. Tiffany Wheeler says:

    Wow Katie-Jay. Our efforts are unstoppable. Our love for our friends is as deep as family and we will continue to work hard to save lives, regardless to what others may think huh? Can’t wait for some stories face to face.

  10. Chelsea M. says:

    Katie-Jay,

  11. Zach Ferris says:

    Hey Katie-Jay, i’m Zachary Ferris from Ackerman middle school. My classmates and I have been watching your movie clips and we were all very woried about you and your team. Now we are all very happy that all of you are ok. My whole class but mostly Mr.Crawford can’t wait for you to come back to our school and tell us everything that you did and everything that happened. It must be pretty hard having people beat down on you with those harsh words.

    Hope every thing goes well, Zachary Ferris

  12. Zach Ferris says:

    Hi Katie-Jay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. Chelsea M. says:

    dear Katie -Jay,
    I’m so estatic to here that you and everyone else is safe! I was wondering if their is any possible way that you can go back to Chad after this is all over to get your things? Did you think when you herd the first gun shot that you were going to die? I would have been so scared that I would have just passed out and drempt for the best. I hope you get back safe and Me and my school (ackerman middle school) wish you the best of luck on the rest of your trip! Hopefully you can come back to our school and tell us about the amazing adventures that you had on your trip! I can’t wait to see you and to actually feel like I lived the life thrilling adventures that you were so fortunate to encounter! Let us no if their is anything we can do to help out and i’m sure we can try! Best of luck and have a safe trip home. your a true rolemodel!
    thanks for doing all that you do!!!
    chelsea!!! : )

  14. Dear KT-J,

    I am relieved to hear that you and the rest of the team are safe and will soon be on your way home. This is clearly not the adventure you envisioned when you left Portland.

    While all of this must be frightening (to say the least), I greatly appreciate the way in which you and the others have kept us up to date with words, videos and still images (Will this lead to a career in journalism?). I am looking forward to hearing more and learning what we can do to help.

    In the meantime, wishing you a safe journey back home to those that love you.

    You are amazing!

    Vaya con Dios,

    Sheila E.

  15. Terri Gibson says:

    We love you! You all are amazing. A rare breed who are dedicated to changing the world on a global level…..We are so glad you are comming home soon and that you safe.

    Much Love,

    Terri, Miles, and Kendall Gibson

  16. Heather McKaig says:

    KTJ,

    I’m happy to hear that you are safe and on your way home. I’ll see you soon!

    Much Love,
    Heather

  17. Shea M. says:

    dear African, I agree with my classmates 100% that you shouldn’t judge people because of where they come from! and another thing, they didn’t flee with their tails between their legs; any sane person would jump at the chance to escape from under fire, even you. I don’t believe I’m better than you… in fact I think your braver than me. And just for the record, if someone is trying to save you and many others, don’t deny their existance. Try to be positive okay?

    Shea

  18. American says:

    I feel like African by the way he talks might be of importance and have certain ties to the situation in Darfur. I find it coincidental that he only writes after Stop Genocide Now goes global and makes the news. Its all over BBC that the attacks could have been linked to the Sudanese Government and that is also where new comers are finding this site….It was tenacious writing and something that people should not be responding to. We all know why we fight for the people of Darfur, period

    As of now I think that this site shouldn’t be up and running….right now. Things are not safe for the people of darfur.

  19. Dear KTJ
    I didn’t know about any of this until just now! I’m so thankful you’re all OK- You can mail me back if you still need a ride from the airport. I am only busy from about 1to 4:30 PM on Tuesday and I’d like to do something to help.
    Love to you all-April Kiessling
    (I’ll get you my number if you need it)

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