Saying Goodbye (Reasons #49-54, the individuals; Reason #55 “…not to leave us behind.”)

We have just one more day in Djabal camp. We have spent over a week now visiting our friends here. We have spent a lot of time working on the technology for CommKit, letting the students learn how to use the computer and seeing them read and respond to messages from their friends in the US. I love watching them learn and reading their messages.

Each day that we worked with Ali, Jimiya, Murtada, Rahma, Rouda, and Khaltouma, they became a closer group of friends, one they were not part of before. I also grew closer to them, knowing them a bit more intimately each day. Each one of them is a reason we should continue to work for Darfur:

Khaltouma (Reason #49) is shy in large groups. Once she is just with us, she is always smiling. Her and Jimiya whisper and giggle together. She has a soft voice, but is not afraid to use it when on the camera or connecting to US schools. I know her confidence will grow through using CommKit. One of her braids almost always peeks out from under her head scarf, and she pulls the scarf loosely back over it, only to let it fall back a moment later.

Ali (Reason #50) was on the very first soccer team Gabe and I played with in January 2008 here in Camp Djabal. He is hilarious. He cannot sit still and must be drawing, walking around, asking you a question, or practicing karate at any moment. He walks with a sort of a swagger that says, “Hey, I’m cool.” We gave him a letter from a player on Gabo’s team, Michael C., and he has already drawn him 2 pictures and a letter! More to come tomorrow, he told us this afternoon.

Murtada (Reason #51) writes almost perfect English. With each day he spoke a bit more clear and had the courage to speak. He is always asking us questions. What does your house look like, is it made of grass or brick? What do you eat? How long does it take you to get here? Murtada’s eyes always looks deep in thought. He walks slowly and very upright, each step with so much purpose. He is very inquisitive and eager to help the others on the computer.  He asks about Yuen-Lin, whom he met in February 2009, everyday.

Rouda (Reason #52) has seen more than most 14 year olds. Her eyes sit deep above her cheek bones and she is the quietest of the whole group. This trip, unlike the previous ones, I got to see her smile every time we were with her. I couldn’t catch it on camera, but after a photo, after using the computer, after receiving a bracelet, she smiled. I can’t help but imagine that when she let the joy take over for those brief moments that a little part of her heart was unlocked and her spirit let loose.

Rahma (Reason #53) is not a stranger to most of you reading this. He is charismatic and front and center most the time. He has a high pitched laugh, especially when he tells a joke by responding to what you say with “I’m sorry.” Which he says often and gets everyone laughing. He is  natural leader in the group. I have no doubt that the skills he gains through this experience will help him build a stronger Darfur.

Jimiya (Reason #54) is not shy. She walks right up to you, shakes your hand, and smiles in one breath, “How are you I am fine.” All in one sentence and all with a smile. Come to think of it except when she is posing for a photo, she is always smiling. She too is head of the household and lives with her grandmother but is in school everyday. She has an enormous heart, and will make a good mother and community member when she gets older.

These are our friends. And there are so many more. As I write this and think about leaving in two days to visit another camp, one that will be new to our whole team, I start to cry. Achta once said (Reason #55), “Don’t forget us. Please always put us in front of you and not to leave us behind.”

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 “Saying Goodbye (Reasons #49-54, the individuals; Reason #55 “…not to leave us behind.”)”
  1. pam B says:

    Good morning KTJ, Your words greeted me today while waiting for the sun to come up here in Los Angeles. You and the wonderful team bring us close to our friends in the camps, building communication and connection where there was none.
    Traveling with you,
    Pam

    • ktj says:

      Thank you Pam. I hope that by making these very real connections between Ali, Jimiya, Khaltouma, and kids like yours in U.S. schools, that the next generation of leaders will approach the world differently, perhaps more focused on prevention and peace building before war erupts and displacement begins.

      peace, ktj

      ps. The sun is just setting here over KouKou!

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