Scars

Family drawing We have a days rest in Abeche before three of our team members move on to Guereda where Camp Kounoungo is located, and one, Eric, begins is several day journey back to Los Angeles. It doesn’t seem like a break. I feel more restless today then any other day since our arrival in Chad. There are any number of tasks that I could be doing, but instead I click through pictures in iPhoto, allowing myself to be transported back to our friends in Camp Djabal.

Abdelmouni, now three years old, is Adef’s serious young man. The giggles and almost consistent smile Bashar, Bashir, and Guisma get from Achta. Adef and Abdelmouni, although they have great laughs too, are more serious and stern. In almost every picture Abdelmouni’s “look” is captured. Only a tickle on the neck or showing him his picture on the camera will get him to giggle. His three older siblings catch the contagious laughter. I wonder what Gbryl (prounounced Ge-briel) will be like. Will he too have a contagious laugh.

Little Gbryl  I think about the pain that Achta and Adef must feel after losing four of their children. Guisma is the only girl they have left; of nine children that she has birthed. Nine.  Their oldest son, Abrahim, would be 18 years old, the next oldest would be 15. Instead, it is Bashar and Bashir at 8 years old. They were only 3 when they fled their homeland. I wonder what they remember, if anything.

Achta has a great scar on her arm. It is raised with two large oval scars meeting like tips of tear drops touching with another straight scar that is perpendicular. I slowly pass my fingers over them and ask her what happened. Our translator has not arrived. Adef simply points at his wife’s arm, makes a gesture like he shooting an AK-47, and says, “Janjaweed.” Today Achta’s arm still hurts as she bears the scars of gun shot wounds and perhaps more painful, the scars of losing four children.

I don’t know how Achta and Adef feel. But when we ask them what they hope for and what they need, it is always the same. They want justice in order for peace. And they want their children to be educated so Darfur and Sudan will be stronger because of the next generation.

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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