Travel Day Musings and Some Questions for You

4:00am – I woke up way too early and could not go back to sleep. The alarm was set for 5:15 am, so that we could be check-out, out by the door, and ready for pick up by UNHCR driver by 6:00am. But, I woke up at 4:00am!

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6:00am – We have checked-out of the hotel and are standing outside the front door, where it feels cool and crisp, and we’re feeling good. We get to fly to the East, to Abeche! A glance at our luggage, it looks ridiculous. It is more than we’ve ever brought. We have almost 300 t-shirts, soccer balls, and volley balls for the kids in the camps, besides our equipment and very little in personals. UNHCR has reserved us some cargo room on the plane, so that the donated sports material can get to the camps. It was all donated by my son’s soccer club, Manhattan Beach Sand & Surf, and we’re so much looking forward to playing with the refugee children. By the way, I miss my kids already, Mimi and Gabo.

6:15am – A driver arrives. I ask him, “To the airport,” and he says, “Yes, to the airport.” We load our mountain of luggage, and he calls on his radio that he has the three passengers and is on his way to the airport. We’re feeling good.

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6:30am – The streets are empty, on the way to the airport. The driver does not stop at the regular spot we’re usually taken to, the international terminal. He drives on to this new, smaller terminal, where we’re dropped off. We get in line and advance our mountain of luggage in stages. When we finally get to where an airline staff is checking documents, he says, I believe (since I don’t speak the language), that we’re not on this flight. He later comes and gets our documents and within a minute comes back to tell us that we’re at the wrong terminal! I start calling everyone I know, getting a hold of Victorien, Amous, and Delphine. Amous comes to the rescue in about 5 minutes and takes us to the right terminal.

6:45 – Amous takes us to the front of the line, has his friends check us in, our mountain of luggage gratefully taken from us to go as cargo, and now we’re really feeling good. One way or another, it seems like every step of our journeys here ends up with some excitement.

8:00am – We’re on the plane to Abeche, high over the Chadian desert. James is reading his kindle. KTJ is reading “Doctor Zhivago.” And I’m reading “Science is Culture.”

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I don’t know about the others’ readings, but mine is fascinating. I just read a conversation between a biologist and a graphic designer. Surprisingly, their jobs have many similarities, with them both trying to create elegant designs, and asking themselves if what they create is new. Does its form and style come out of its functions, and do they work together? Does it serve a purpose, and is it good?

They talked about the challenge of “fishing in the same river,” so that too many of the designs end up being similar or even the same.

It made me wonder if we’re doing the right thing. Do our efforts to address mass atrocities and the results of violence have beauty and usefulness in their design? Are we all doing too much of the same thing, fishing in the same river?

Let me know what you think. What are we NOT doing? How can we be creative in designing new solutions to the problem? I would really appreciate your thoughts and ideas.

Peace,
G

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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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