i-ACT 1: Nov 21 - Dec 10, 2005

Out of Abeche


It was an exciting, if unexpected, way to start the day. We thought that our flight to N’Djamena departed at 11:30am, so that we had time to leisurely get our things together. At 8:00am, the guesthouse guard came running, saying that there was a UNHCR car outside looking for us. The UNHCR staff told me that he was taking us to the airport. I asked for ten minutes to get ready and pack, but ten minutes was too long; we had to rush and do it in five.

We made it, though, and I’m right now writing from the plane, flying high above the desert. I am so grateful for the UNHCR sending a car for us. We were not expecting it, and were arranging to get to the airport on our own. The plane would have left us! I heard that all flights to N’D are booked through the 20th of December. It would have been a much extended stay in Abeche.

UNHCR’s Ginette Le Breton is who saved us. She was out of her office in Abeche on a trip to Guereda, but she left word for a car to go get us. She made things so much easier for us during our entire journey. I really did not expect this kind of support and “looking out” for us.

Speaking of Ginette and of kind people, it was refreshing to find some that had not been turned into cynics and were able to keep their hearts warm and open. The conditions out here are such that burn-out might be an epidemic among workers at the agencies and organizations. Then you find a person like Ginette, who goes out of her way to find shoes for a young Darfurian that made it to Abeche, after hearing that his mother was alive and seen in a refugee camp far from the one he was at. Sure, finding shoes for one (large footed) youth is not going to change the crisis, but it is the human touch, the person-to-person exchange, that offers a refreshing breeze of hope.

Emmanuel, from UNHCR’s Guereda office, and whom you met in one of the videos, is another example of a warm heart at work. He does not get lost in the numbers. He takes into consideration the humanity of individuals at the camps and knows that there is a lot more than just getting them the right number of calories and liters. “They need to go home,” he says.

Well, I should be home by late Thursday night. What just hit me is that I have to report to work on the following Monday. I have to start earning a salary again, something that stopped a little too long ago. So, not too much time for R&R, but I’m sure going to enjoy this coming weekend with my family!


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