Day 2: Dec 22, 2006

" Trying to Get From Here to There "

Still in N’Djamena,

We are still waiting to get on a plane to Abeche and out to the camps. It’s been a busy day with the press briefing and conference with the UN High Commissioner, Guterres. Gabriel and I were there with Reuters and Al Jazeera, among other well know publications. I was very proud to be there representing everyday people. Ann, at UNHCR was again very helpful and really saw the value of the work we are doing. She, too, sees how many people can be reached by this type of citizen journalism. We have no one to answer to except the refugees and our only responsibility is to report the truth as we experience it on behalf of the refugees. I really believe that this work is not only as important but maybe more so in the efforts to tell this story. Always back to people connecting to people…

There is a lot of talk about moving the refugees away from the camps near the border and into new camps further into Chad for security reasons. Gabriel is worried for the refugees because so many told him they do not want to move even further away from their homeland. I keep thinking about how we as people are often a reflection of the land we live on because we are fed by it both literally and figuratively. I think about how no matter what our experiences or betrayals, our homeland is always a part of who we are at heart. I keep being drawn back to my years of work and friendship with those effected by homelessness in the States and working with those effected by Katrina. I realize that this journey and work, which felt so new and different to me just eight months ago, is really an extension of that work on a global scale. It’s all about the right, ability and opportunity to live peacefully and safely in one’s home. Over and over again it seems that life has put me in the path of those who ” just want to go home.” My instinct earlier today was to say,” yes, move the camps if it will keep the civilians safe!” but I realize from Gabriel’s experience last year that the refugees I am so desperate to meet, ” just want to go home.” And eventually they must because living as a perpetual refugee cannot be the answer for any human being or for the world at large.

So, we are ready to walk across the desert if we can’t get on a plane soon and I’m only half kidding. It occurs to me the moment I write that, that so many of the Darfurian people HAVE walked across the desert in order to save their lives and protect their families. My clever quip suddenly seems not so funny at all and I am even more aware of how much we need to get to Abeche to be with the people we came to represent. This trip is all about them and it’s been very difficult having so little control over when we can out go there. I never thought I’d be so anxious to get on a plane as I do NOT like to fly at all! Maybe that is something else that I will learn on this trip from the brave people we will visit….In the face of fear, embrace both courage and life…. one moment at a time.


8 replies on “" Trying to Get From Here to There "”

Hey dad,

I just saw the second vedio. I hope everything is going well. I hope Stacy is doing well too. Everybody back home misses you alot. Keep safe.


Dear Gabriel,

We at the Save Darfur Coalition are thinking of you and hoping for the best for your important trip.

Please say hello to Serge and Ann for me in N’djamena, and to Claire and Matthew when you get to Abeche, which I hope will be very soon.

Warm regards,
Dave Rubenstein

I hope that you won’t feel pressured to move quickly because of your worldwide audience. I can’t imagine that everyone tuning would not want you to be prudent in your decision about how best to reach the camps. Please be safe. Thank you for posting the press conference.

Hi Gabriel,

Good to see that you and Stacey are weighing all of the options on transport.

If you can’t get on a plane, I would head over to the bus depot and chat with the drivers about the conditions of the roads and the buses. If a bus is running daily (or more often), it might be a better option than taking a private car, since you don’t know what the gasoline situation is like and the vehicle may break down and leave you stranded.

I have frequently taken buses in Africa and many of them are in decent shape. But you would need to check if there is a timetable and they are travelling regularly.

If you can’t get to Abeche soon, you might want to find out if any Darfurians have found their way to N’d. My hunch is that some may be there and would be worthwhile to interview.

Be safe and well. Keep trusting your instincts. We in LA are thinking about you!!


Dear Gabriel,
Just saw the video. The press conference was fantastic. Hopefully it will spur on some action to stop this insanity. Please keep safe and as was stated before, weigh all your options.

Dear Gabriel’

I was your neighbor in LA and my son, Rafael, was born on the same day your son Gabriel was born, wich to me was more than coincident, it was an honor.
I can only say that you set up a real good example for us all. Your act not only make a real impact on our lifes and the people in the refugee camp, but also make each one of us push more in our daily life to spread good and justice. My pray and words are to all of you to get safe to your destination

God bless you all,

Gelson Vieira

Gelson, Well, Gabriel and Zahara’s son, Gabo is a little miracle so i’m sure that Rafael is too. Gabriel is a wonderful example to the world, you are right! Peace and Blessings, Stacey

Dear Gelson:

Your comment really touched me and is so much appreciated. Your son, Rafael, and my little one, Gabriel, deserve for us to leave them a world that does not stand by as other little ones are being killed because of what group they belong to. Please give a hug to all in your wonderful family.

Hello Grace!

It is so nice to hear from you. Thank you for your commitment to make a difference there in Michigan. You and your team are trully some of the upstanders for Darfur.

Hi Marilyn:

Thanks for following us along and keeping us company :)

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