Darfur Olympic Venues

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basketball 4.JPG For five years children have attended school in tarped, stick structures. They have spent their morning break on this basketball court, and soccer field, playing with anything they can find including plastic bags filled with sand, old soda cans, and metal wheel frames. Their swing sets have no swings, only a few pieces of a chain where a seat once was. These children share the dreams of the Olympic hopefuls. To one day be somebody that the world cares about and watches grow.

As 16,000 Olympic Athletes begin to move into the 66 hectacre Beijing Olympic Village, here in Oure Cassoni, the farthest North, the farthest East of all the camps in Eastern Chad, the children remain stagnant, playing what games they can with the little hope and many dreams they still have.

grl in grn.JPGIn China, where the government has continued to sell weapons and extract oil, athletes from their ‘One World’ begin to gather to fulfill their dreams, dreams that do not include those of the Darfuri’s left in the desert. China has personally built, specifically for these games, a residential area with 22 six-floor buildings and 20 nine-floor buildings, as well as a clinic, restaurants, a library, a recreation centre, gyms, swimming pools, tennis courts, basketball courts and jogging tracks. Darfuri’s continue to live in the same tattered tents that constantly battle harsh winds and a burning sun. For these athletes, there are no libraries, or restaurants, or swimming pools. Their clinic is overcrowded and understaffed; their diseases are malaria, meningitis, and yellow fever. Their dreams are not included in the ones that China speaks of.

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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4 Responses to “Darfur Olympic Venues”
  1. Hola Amigo,
    My goodness. I think back to the first time we spoke and can’t believe how far you’ve come and all you’ve done. Oh, wait. Yes I CAN believe it! Told you so! :-)

    When you get back let’s strategize about play in refugee camps. It used to be that I would consider play frivoulous until I saw the impact it had on Katrina victims. I think in Oure Cassoni the impact would be far greater still. Imagine how the tired and depressed eyes of the mothers in this camp would light up to hear playful joy in the laughter of their children.

    I know something of the difficulties and impossibilities of my dream, but I’m willing to give it a try. Play Pumps and the like. We will make something happen. Espero que tu me ayudes!

    Stay safe.

    Peace + Play, Cynthia

    • Gabriel says:

      Amiga!
      Claro que ayudo! Yes, giving these kids a chance to play, to be children, would have such a great impact on their lives. On Day 4 video (up on Monday) you’ll see the joy they experience while playing. Wouldn’t it be great to have the kids thinking about sports and games and not about violence and…boredom. Let’s talk amiga. Oure Cassoni is a logistically crazy place to get anything in and maintain, so we would have to be very creative in making it work. Un abrazo!
      g

  2. Brenda Hodges says:

    Hi KTJ and Gabriel,

    Glad to see that you have made it into the camps and are able to reach so many people this trip. I have really enjoyed the pictures you have posted. We are thinking of you and your friends.

    Safe travels,
    Brenda, Matt & Peanut

    • Katie-Jay says:

      Hey Brenda, Matt & Peanut!
      Thanks so much for following us – this one is more exciting than the last! Take some of the actions over the next few days, there are some good ones!
      Peace, KTJ

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