We don’t want this to become a habit.

14 June 2008, 12:05am Saturday
Abeche

ktj g carWhen I first started getting involved in the Darfur movement, the almost complete focus for everyone that cared was Darfur itself. The experts did talk about threats to the region, if Darfur was left to burn. As months and years went by, the talks turned to the need to think of Sudan as a whole and find a comprehensive approach to the country’s problems, including Darfur. Now, we must focus on the larger region, including Chad, Central African Republic, Sudan…and Darfur.

I know that this should have been the focus from the beginning, but we tend to want to keep it simple, since it’s so difficult to create attention for even the more focused and manageable to the mind Darfur.

Every trip to Chad has included being close, in time or in distance, to fighting. Hearing bullets being shot in to the night air became fairly normal. Being told and warned of bandits robbing cars was expected. Rebel activity was just part of Chadian reality, I felt. But, the big fighting and horrors were still in Darfur.

Being caught in N’Djamena during the coup did not feel normal, and we did not expect it. This time, we came even more aware of the realities of Chad, but it’s not exactly every-day stuff to me hearing of heavy rebel and Chadian military movement and a possible repeat of all-out fighting in the capital.

We are safe, and safer than in February, when we were stuck just next door to the bulls-eye of the attack, the presidential palace. Our friends in Abeche have treated us more than wonderfuly. Suzanne found us this great room in the fitness center, and we have the luxury of mattresses on the floor, a desk to set up my computer, and our trusted Bgan—our connection to a satellite high in the sky, where we bounce our video and journals on to get them down to you.

Our team here is feeling good, given the circumstance. Colin is a bit under the weather, but staying positive and laughing with us. Scott is great, also maintaining his sense of humor, as he writes his journals and answer comments. Katie-Jay is on doing all of her work and also staying positive and funny. We’re a good team.

It is night out here. Usually in Chad, from the little I know, if there is any fighting, it slows down after the sun sets. I am hoping that Chadians wake up to peaceful day. The team is very disappointed at not having made it to the camps yet, but we are more concerned for the people in the camps and what another round of war does to them. I think of the children in the camps, and I wonder how their parents manage to keep them healthy in mind and body with all of this chaos around them.

I also think about my children, Gabo and Mimi, and don’t want them to worry again. I’m not saying this because of that, but we really are doing OK here and feel safe. We will continue working, sending up video and journals and responding to your comments. We will wait and see what the sun brings and make the best decision based on the best information.

Please tell people around you to take a few minutes and do some of the actions we have suggested or any other action they can do that will help bring positive change to this region of the world.

What happens to boys that, in some way, get used to war when they grow up and become men? I know that they cannot get used to it, but it can be all that they know, if it’s always around them. Please help us make peace a habit.

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 5: June 14, 2008 · Tags: , , ,

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7 Responses to “We don’t want this to become a habit.”
  1. Amy (STF) says:

    Gabriel,

    Your point about the entire region is a very important one, and it presents a new challenge to the Darfur movement. It is hard enough trying to get peoples’ attention focused on Darfur (and telling them where this is!), but more difficult still is trying to make people aware of the danger spreading throughout the region. The larger the circle of violence, the more likely people are to shrug their shoulders and say “What can we do?!” I had hope when the European Union sent in troops to the Chad and CAR’s borders, but this small force alone cannot bring peace to warring factions. I hope that diplomatic relations will be somehow attempted to prevent conflict from further spreading. Soon.

    As for the rest, getting stuck, sandstorms…what next?! I’m glad that you are safe, but as you all point out, your challenges only make me think of the more sever challenges that the refugees face. I hope you are able to be with them soon so that we can communicate to them once again that we are thinking of them and working to bring them protection and safety.

    Hang in there, or, as I’m sure you’ve heard from the French-speakers, “Du courage!”…Amy

    • Gabriel says:

      Hello Amy!
      I know. It does get so messy and complex, but people have to see that the little or a lot that they can do is what can make the difference. Also, as complex as it might get, what keeps me motivated is that it comes down to something simple: it is innocent people, just like you and I and my children, that are victims and suffering. So, if the people I love were in a similar situation, I’d be praying for anyone around the world to be doing even just a little to get us out. Thank you for what you do and for getting so many young people involved and motivated.
      Paz,
      G

  2. Kathleen Scott says:

    I know it’s frustrating for you but getting stuck at the crucial moments in the history of this tragedy seems to help emphasize the reality for the refugees and the consequences of turning a blind eye to genocide for all of Africa.

    I see Genocide as a principle or a value, like Slavery, that MUST be eliminated if the Human Family is to evolve towards peace and vitality. The consequences will not stop at the borders of Africa, our world is too intertwined on an international level to pretend it is not our business and the Africans are not our neighbors.

    I’m proud of your work and I know it’s hard to see the progress from where you are now, but you are keeping the stop Genocide movement alive even when stuck.

    Kathleen

    • Gabriel says:

      Hello Kathleen:
      It is so good to have you be a part of our team. You stay so focused and active, even when I know you must be worried for your daughter. Thank you for being so supportive, and I promise that we are making decisions based on safety because we want to continue with our “missions,” as our trips our here are called by the agencies.
      Hug,
      g

  3. Mimi and Gabo says:

    Hola Papi!
    It is too bad you guys got stuck. Well, we hope you guys get to the refugee camps soon! Good Luck!
    PEACE & LOVE
    -Mimi and Gabo

  4. Lisa Goldner says:

    Hi! Even though your travel’s gotten increasingly difficult and dangerous in these last few trips, it’s good to hear each of you seems undaunted and determined to get through to the camps to hear from those within. Is there any chance you could get some video clips out to the news agencies which picked up your story in N’Djamena in February, and do a follow-up report focusing on the growing instability in the region and how it’s hampered your mission? As much media attention as you garnered from the coup attempt, it seems there’d be interest enough for piggy-back publicity.

    I thought I’d share some of the words stuck in my head after the tutoring session we had last night with the resettled Darfuri families. One who’s working on beginning reading skills could easily now be reading, “Go, Gabe, go!” : D And, we’ll all pray that you and your team can “go,” soon!

    Peace,
    Lisa

  5. ashis brahma says:

    Dear team,

    Keep the fire burning
    It is of the utmost importance
    That communication keeps on happening
    Praying for you to visit one of the camps
    The situation has not gotten any better over the last 4 years
    And our friends in Chad and Sudan deserve better

    Love and peace

    Ashis

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