Fresh Eyes (Reasons #74-76)

This was my first visit to Goz Amer camp. It felt so different than any other camp. Each camp really has it’s own feel to it, just as each urban city in America or Europe does. We visited with the schools first snapping photos, greeting teachers, and getting our first chance to walk the camp. The majority of the school buildings really are in terrible condition. Besides Oure Cassoni where they were still tattered tarps on our last visit, these classroom conditions might be the worst we have seen (Reason #74). There are no fences around the schoolyards and animals and people walk freely through them
The schools are just on the edge of the camp. Separated from the shelters and dwellings by a main road that takes you all the way to Sudan, only 100 kilometers away. All the NGO services, school, medical, the youth and culture center are on this side of the dirt highway. Beyond these buildings is a wadi that is till running with water. The Darfuris can fish, and trees, fruits, and vegetables grow tall and strong. The refugees were the first to say, when we asked about life in Goz Amer, that they are lucky compared to the situation of others. They are humble (Reason #75)

Today was market day and the camp was teaming with movement. Children running freely without supervision (pre-school was something we discussed with the Umda, one of the leaders, of the camp). Women carrying not just one item on their head, but many times two or three, plus something in their hand. Some ride donkeys or guide them through traffic. There are horse drawn carts and motor bike taxis that scurry down the main road.

There are several businesses open during the day in the camp and many, many women sell okra, tomatoes, guava, and papaya. The access to resources really does make a difference in the lives of the refugees. They are able to sustain themselves more than those in the other 11 camps. They are working hard to survive, but remain in limbo. There life is still not entirely full (Reason #76)

On the drive back, I am amazed at the day, and how deep our conversations went with the Umda’s. I can’t wait to meet the female Umda tomorrow and peek into the lives of a few students. The ride to the camp, about a half hour, is very slow in the convoy but the forest we pass through is teeming with wildlife.

Today was a very good day.

peace, 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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