Day 3: Dec 23, 2006

Finding transport to Abeche, talking to Dr Ashis


Hello to Everyone,

Wow, it’s been so hard to get to Abeche! Last night was very chaotic with a lot of difficult decisions. Ali found a car and driver to get all three of us to Abeche. It is a 15 to 17 hour drive through very barren desert and most NGO’s stop for the night on the way as it is not so safe to travel at night, especially lately. I know that we’d all prefer to fly ( yes, even me!) for safety reasons but we haven’t been able to get a flight out and we want to get to the camps ASAP. We all went and looked at the car to see if we thought it would make it and Gabriel and I had to laugh as neither of us know much about cars! We all got in, put our seat belts on and drove around in a circle. We asked for some time to think because such a big decision felt very rushed to us. Gabriel had to do an interview and Ali and I sat and talked about what to do. Ali had never said a word about being worried about driving out there to eastern Chad. He’d been evacuated from a camp ten days earlier yet he was not only willing but anxious to go back with us. The driver needed an answer because the gas stations would close by 8pm and we would have to leave by 5am to make the most of day time travel. I asked Ali if he felt it was safe and he said that he could not make that decision for Gabriel and me. Time was running out to decide. I ran to ask Gabriel what we should do and we both felt that it was all too rushed. It just didn’t feel right with so little time to gather information and we’d be no good to the people of Darfur if something happened to us or the equipment on the way out there. I told Ali that we would spend all day Friday trying to secure seats on the Saturday World Food Program plane and if we failed, we’d drive out Sat. at 5am to be in the camps by Sunday. He said. ” Good. It is better that we try to fly. I would prefer to fly, not drive.” I was struck, for the first time, by the fact that he WAS worried for his safety but would have gone willingly and without a word had we decided to go in that moment. I’m not sure if his dedication was to Gabriel, the refugees or his word but I respected him so much in that instant. Ali, is indeed a brave young man.

Staying in N’djamena turned out to be a blessing as we got to meet up with Dr. Ashis Brahma, who’d helped to open a lot of eyes to Darfur on his 60 Minutes interview. He really spoke from his heart about the situation and people really listened. We met up with him on his way out of one of the most dangerous camps along the border where he’d been one of the last aid workers left after the evacuations. He is obviously very moved by the dignity and beauty of the Darfurian people and it was inspiring to hear him speak of them. It was interesting to learn that all three of us had similar reasons for being drawn to the plight of the refugees and it felt comforting to sit and talk about our journeys to this point. I felt so grateful to be in the company of Gabriel and Ashis who have led so many with their examples of bravery and commitment to humanity. I thought a lot today about how there is a difference between eastern and western medicine that must so often be bridged but that art, by its very nature, is universal. I began to dream of aiding in the healing process of the Darfurian people through theater and storytelling. Ashis mentioned how after three years in the camps people have a great need to express themselves creatively and to partake in entertainment. My mind started working over time about how, as a teacher and artist, I might aid in that process. So much to think about…. but for now our focus MUST be on their protection and safety! I truly hope that the images and words of the Darfurian people inspire the world to take action. I hope one day we can come to experience and record creative expressions that come from the joy of knowing they are safe and home as much as art is now needed to help heal and save their lives.

Yet for now, the creative impulse for these resilient people must be survival and ours, as a movement, must be to wake up the world and Stop The Genocide Now.

Tomorrow we go to the airport at the crack of dawn and do EVERYTHING we can to get on that plane and into those camps! If not we drive……..

Peace & Blessings, Stacey

17 replies on “Finding transport to Abeche, talking to Dr Ashis”

Stacey, you mentioned Dr. Brahma’s interview on 60 Minutes. I don’t know how I missed it, but I did…I’ve just finished watching the video at CBS. I’m shocked, but not at all surprised, to learn of the link between using Khartoum for intelligence tips and our inaction in stopping the genocide. So Dr. Brahma is no longer at that camp where Pelley interviewed him in October? The 60 Minutes report said he was the ONLY doctor in that camp. Today’s post said to ask questions, so I’m going to…where have they been evacuated to? What is Dr. Brahma doing now?

PLEASE listen to and honor your intution re getting to the camps. If it FEELS too dangerous, please honor that. Please safeguard your own life in your profound desire to help save others’. I’m hoping and praying that you’ll be able to fly in, rather than drive.

I blog about Darfur on a regular basis (on my ‘regular’ blog, not just at Bloggers for Darfur), but I have to agree with Dr. Brahma–as compassionate as people like to think they are, for some reason, this genocide simply doesn’t touch them in the ways we all hope that it will.

THANK YOU for being there.

Hi stacey-It’s me Bill. What an understatement to say that what you are doing is awe inspiring. Its been facinating to follow your adventure.

I must say 15 hours to cross the desert seems very dangerous. Ive heard tell the desert in Afraica can get a bit warm & dry. Good luck and may the wind be at your back.

Hello Stace and Gabriel. I am anxious to know how you three will make it to Abeche. I admire your courage and dedication. Thank you. As Marilyn said, please folow your instincts, no explanations needed. Peace and Love!

Best wishes getting on that plane! Please fly and stay light. We are all watching, half horrified and hoping that your travels tell their story without injury to either of you or the friends you make in this journey.

We will be sending constant prayers and good thoughts for your safety, and for the thousands and thousands whose fate is uncertain around you.

I just wanted to let you know how amazing I think this project is! I just found this online and I am so excited about it! I will check on it every day to follow your journey and tell ALL my friends and family what you are doing. This is something I think people in America have been needing for a LONG time…someone to show them first-hand the personal stories and real experiences of the people of Sudan. That is what makes all of this real. Like you said: people connecting with people.
I spent this last summer in Kenya for two months and was changed by the incredbile joy and courage of the people. And having been near Sudan, my heart goes out even more to all of those affected by the genocide. I wish everyone could GO there and have an experience like you are having, but unfortunately that is not reality, so I am so grateful you are doing the next best thing and making it possible for people to vicariously experience Africa through YOU.
I am inspired and encouraged by your bravery and committment to such an important task. I will pray for your safety and your success in reaching people for the cause of Sudanese lives. Thanks again! :) Mungu akubariki (God bless you in Kiswahili).
Laura Haide

Your dedication and passion never ceases to amaze me. Wow. What a journey. The “indifference” comment really rang true with me. I am so amazed that you guys are there and capturing these stories. Very inspiring.

I continue to keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

Much love.

this is mike. I love you and I miss you. I have no frame of reference for my feelings. You have measured my cowardice for me. May the will and fearlessness of John Brown be with you both.

Hi, Stacey and Gabriel, thanks for the gallows humor you share with Dr. Brahma! Tell me, each of you, what exactly triggered your activism or inspired you to actually DO something about Darfur? What do you do for a living, and how do you support your journey to Chad? It’s one thing for us to say, oh yes, it’s terrible, isn’t it, what’s happening in Darfur, but most of us do NOT leave our jobs and families and place ourselves at risk to help others. Share your motiviations, if possible.
Thanks, Phyllis

Bill, ( as in Bill from NY?), Thanks for following the trip. It’s been frustrating and inspiring every minute of the way. Hope you keep watching and spread the word about Darfur. Here’s to the” wind being at our backs” ( luckily it was because we got on the plane !) but most of all may it start blowing in the favor of the innocents civilians! stacePamela, Thank you for writing and caring. We got on the plane, but we felt so blessed with the encouragement of people like you! Peace and Blessings, Stacey

Hey Bill:

The wind was on our back! We got on the plane and avoided the 15 hours across the desert. Yesterday, we drove over three hours on the bumpy desert roads, and we know that 15 would have been pretty crazy! I think that all the good vibes worked to get us on that plane!

Hi Pam B!

We’ve had Ali with us all this time, and he asks about the Student Task Force, since he’s been our line to Ahmat. We are still looking for a way to get up to see Ahmat, and it might work out.

Dear Stacey,
In my and in the name of Active Slovenia i would like to say that we are supporting yours affords in Darfur and we will spread the news of your journey all over the Slovenia.
Tadej Slapnik
general secretary

Stacey, God bless that your journey was safe. I am breathing easy now. YOu are in our thoughts and prayers.

Dear Gabriel and Stacey,

Good to see more people are actually hepling such as Dr. Brahma’s, the only doctor in the refugee camp. I can’t believe more violence has occured.

be safe,
Kian K.

dear stacey,
i think taht driving fifteen hours through a desert is also very unsafe. the words that dr. brahma said were very intelectual and it was wourth staying the extra day.
please be safe.
joshua hanasab
palisades charter high school

Dear Stacey,

I can’t believe there was only one doctor at the refugee camp,Dr. Brahma, and now he has left. Hope another doctor comes to help.

stay safe,
Kian K.

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