Title: Experiencing Joy (Refugee camps harden children, Reason #36)

I don’t think words can explain how fun it was to see Bashir and Bashar, already two of my most favorite people in this entire camp, laugh and play with such joy and freedom. They would not stop laughing as they battled with James, cheetah vs dinosaur vs. fire truck!

This giggle was the first introduction we had to Adef and his family. We first heard it two years ago from their sister Guisma. She would begin to laugh and soon the whole family was smiling and giggling with her. Then, she would play with her younger sister Marymouda, who would also giggle as babies do. In the time that has past Marymouda has died, and Guisma has become a serious and quiet little girl. I had the chance to give her a bracelet donated by Mira Costa High School students, and she smiled a little then, but nothing like on our first visit here. Living in a refugee camp, now for almost her entire life has hardened Guisma (Reason #36).

But for the half hour after G traded for the handmade soccer ball, the twins did not have a care in the world. At one point Bashir grabbed the fire truck, sprinted across the New Sudan schoolyard and set the firetruck on the window ledge. He took three huge steps backwards, ran towards the opening, and launched himself up, and then over the ledge, using it like a gymnastics horse! He disappeared. Then his little hand popped up to move the truck and the show began. Pure joy.

We also trained several students on how to use a computer. They will eventually be using it to connect to US schools. One of the students, Raouda, is another one of my favorite Darfuris. She rarely smiles. Even when I gave her several bracelets, or gave her beautiful brother the Italy soccer jersey and stuffed animal, she did not crack a smile. Raouda lives a hard life but she continues with school, and that is very important. BUT today at least I got to experience not only a smile but a laugh while we were testing the CommKit. She wrote a sentence and I complemented her on it. I asked Rahma to take a picture of us, and after a huge smile appeared. These are the moments I cherish so much while I am here. Pure joy.

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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2 Responses to “Title: Experiencing Joy (Refugee camps harden children, Reason #36)”
  1. teresa says:

    I guess we’d like to believe the children at the camps are ok, they are happy, they adjust, they don’t know anything else… they laugh, they play, they’re ok. And the reality is as they grow they also hurt and they must long for a better life… it is heartbreaking.

    • Katie-Jay says:

      Yes, Teresa, I completely agree. I could not have said it better. In the year between January 2008, when we first met Adef and his twins, and our next visit with YL in March 2009, we noticed that they had not grown much. That Guisma did not laugh as much, and that Abdelmouni was still serious. Now, Bashir and Bashar look the same, they haven’t grown at all in a year and a half. But they did laugh with us this time, the giggle that we hadn’t heard since January 2008. Guisma looks a it taller but really skinny. Abdelmouni laughs a bit and was really excited to get G’s diet pepsi can that other day. He smile a bit. He has a big belly and skinny legs and arms, almost a sure sign of malnutrition. They love when we come and give them attention, Hawaji, Hawaji, they shout. But really when we leave they return to their mundane lives, and for the littlest ones, the camp is all they know. For the older ones, they know the better life they used to live.

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