Letting Go, Looking Forward

KTJ looking for permits (Day 2)Today is a hard day for me. We spent most of the day in the lobby of Le Meridien; waiting for our fixer, waiting for permits, waiting for the video to upload, lots of waiting. As a result, my jet lag has h it me harder than I have ever felt before. Usually there is the excitement of travel, and the reuniting with old friends and meeting new that keeps jet lag afar. The many obstacles we faced today continue to take a toll on my mind and body, and both are tired.

We didn’t get our permits on time, and therefore missed our flight — we might not be able to leave sooner than Thursday or Friday. Be flexible. Relax. None of it is in my hands. Phrases I repeat to myself like a meditative mantra. I don’t have control over leaving N’Djamena sooner. But regardless, by staying, I feel like I am letting down a community.

All those who are living in the camps, while rain fills their tents, and food becomes more scarce. All those who rushed to get pictures laminated and dvds cut for us to share with their families. Fatne, Abakar, Fatna, Aljafis, Guisma, Leila, Darsalam, Saleh, Aziza, Mohamed, and the others in camps to the North of Abeche that we might not be able to see. All of us who need to hear the stories, see the faces, and touch the hands of our friends.

For our whole community, I wish I had filmed the sun setting on Eastern Chad rather than on the river Chari over Cameroon. But soon, I know, we will get to hold the hands of Adef, Achta, Oumar, Selma, Hissein and Hassan, the two twin brothers whose laugh is contagious, and their sisters Guisma and Marymouda. These are the faces and the hands that we will reach on this journey. For them I will pull myself up and remain chanting a meditative mantra. I will look forward to interviews with International NGO staff here in the capital. And I will rest, so that my hug is strong and the hope I bring from all of you shines through.

Although today might be difficult, it is nothing compared to what our friends experience: the idle waiting of five years for peace and protection in Darfur in a camp as far away from other human connection as possible. And this is a situation that is not out of our hands. Please join me in acting for Darfur, tell our US Representative to the UN that he needs to protect our brothers and sisters in the camps, as he would protect his family.

Paz, ktj

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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13 Responses to “Letting Go, Looking Forward”
  1. SoniaK says:

    Hey, K-J, Gabriel, Carolyn, Colin,

    Of course it must weigh on you that you couldn’t catch the flight out today. Sure it sucks. But as K-J noted, it’s not in your hands. The purpose will be revealed in due course. I’m sure none of us back in the U.S. are feeling bummed out that you couldn’t hit the ground running. So take it as it comes and it will all work out fine.

    It must be very eerie to be back at the hotel where you were dodging bullets earlier this year! We will keep your delegation and Darfur’s refugees in our prayers here in Chapel Hill.

    SK

    • Gabriel says:

      Hello Sonia!
      Yes, it is a little eerie to be back at Le Meridien. It’s a strange feeling. I don’t feel scared or unsafe. I don’t feel the tension in the air that we felt back in February. But, the new plaster and paint hardly hide where all the bullets hit.

      Thank you for being so positive and staying with us!
      Paz,
      g

    • Katie-Jay says:

      Thank you Sonia, for your encouragement. As I was uploading all our journals, one after another, I thought “how despairing we all are!” when in fact is it very rare for people to get out of the capitol in two days. Tomorrow we are on our way, and I just can’t wait – to share what all the communities there have given to me including the words and prayers. Thank you for your support!

      Peace, KTJ

  2. Lisa Goldner says:

    Hi, KTJ!

    It’s tough facing the slow start, especially when you had such great planning behind you and clear goals ahead. Knock out the jet lag and enjoy the unexpected extra time for interviews in the area. Y’all will undoubtedly find plenty of work to wade through even if it’s not being done on location in the camps. Seems patience and flexibilty are great virtues to have on these trips into such an unstable environment. It amazes me that the refugees have maintained patience with those of us who are struggling to make a difference in the outcome of Darfur.

    Ciao,

    Lisa

    • Katie-Jay says:

      Thank you Lisa! For always being behind us, reading our journals, and reconfirming that we need to go with the flow that life brings to us. I slept so well, and jet lag, I think, has been kicked for the moment – I guess we will see tonight! In Chad, I find myself far more reflective than the busy life of an American and activist. I seem to always be comparing my thoughts and emotions to those living in the harsh conditions of the refugee camps. I get antsy after one day, they have been doing nothing for years now. I feel safe at home, when they have no home, and what they have in the meantime, before peace in Darfur, is not stable either. It is this perspective that I need to hold true to my heart on the harder days.
      Thanks sister, for also reminding me, ktj

  3. Jeremiah says:

    KTJ & G,

    Ohhhh, the Red Dragon! Staying in N’Djamena a few extra days does have its perks. :)

    I am so excited for you two and to follow your trip. However, I feel a little home sick, like I should be there too. (Not that the Red Dragon is my home or anything, but being out there and doing the work).

    I wish I was there with you. Have a great trip and we’ll talk soon. I’ll be spreading the love and sharing iact with everyone.

    Peace,

    Jeremiah

    • Gabriel says:

      Miah!
      Wish you were here also! The Dragon is not the same without you, and Le Meridien even less. We’ve had some omelets sandwiches and frites at LM. It has been crowded with military personnel from all over the world, soldiers all over the place and no rooms available, so we had to come to the next-best, the Dragon.

      Thank you for sharing the love! I hope to see you soon!
      Paz,
      g

    • Katie-Jay says:

      Hey Miah!!!
      We miss you so much on this trip…. Right now we are chllin at UNHCR in Abeche… you know where they have all that cement, I know you remember! This trip is slow going, and we are not in a camp yet, but you know how that feels. Abeche is now an international destination with a Chinese restaurant, a French restaurant, and another very nice one!
      We will keep you posted and we wish you were here 
      Peace, ktj

  4. Isaac Murphy says:

    Hello KTJ and Team-

    So much Love and Support for ya’ll! I’ve been away from the computer a while and just found out you are back. Patience and Strength to you, and to all those that you will touch….

    Isaac

  5. Mimi and Gabo says:

    Hey Team!
    Its too bad you guys couldn’t make to the camps yet and will have two to three days to get over their. Cool slideshow in the end though!
    Good Luck!
    -Mimi and Gabo

    • Gabriel says:

      Hola Mimi y Gabo!
      We finally get on a plane today and head out east; we might even make it to a camp today, if it all works out (but many times doesn’t) but at the latest tomorrow. It’s morning here, very early, with the sun barely shinning. You would really like the view of the river here. It’s a big, wide river, with people crossing in canoes back and forth between Chad and Cameroon. I miss you! Give each other a big hug for me :)
      besos,
      Papi

    • Katie-Jay says:

      Thanks Mimi and Gabo for staying with us through the journey! Peace, KTJ

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