The First Visit

Hello from Eastern Chad!

Yes, we finally made it. After a tense morning hoping to get on a plane that was full to capacity with all of our equipment and food which was over the weight limit, we at last flew to Abeche. There were seats for Gabriel, Ali and me! We were all ecstatic to finally be heading out. For the first time, I was very calm on a plane. It was a tiny little plane but I felt so grateful to be going that somehow the fear disappeared. I watched the beautiful African land below us and just knew we would be on the ground and in the camps soon!

We arrived in Abeche and headed to the UNHCR compound where, Victorian was incredibly accommodating with help renting a car and getting permits to film and travel. We’d gotten to the airport by 5am and were on the road to the camps by noon. It turns out that our drivers name is Yusef, which he told me was Joseph in English. I can’t say it surprised me. We drove for a few hours toward a camp that was reported to be pretty safe. We ran into a few car problems and Gabriel, Ali and I were all glad it hadn’t happened on the 15 hour drive we were seriously considering taking. Finally after all the waiting….we arrived.

I’ll never forget that first moment walking into that camp. It was so quiet at first but within moments it was filled with the sounds of beautiful children laughing and greeting us. They were so filled with light and hope. Each one had a unique quality, some quiet and shy, others with such depth in their eyes and a pain that shouldn’t be present so young. There were those that played and made loving fun of the way I attempted to greet them with their customary greeting. One sweet little boy continually placed my camera back on my arm when it would slip off and reached to hold my bag closed for me while i struggled to zip my sunglasses back into it. Somehow we all latched onto the word, “Yes!” and kept repeating it to each other. I don’t why but it felt so right because in the face of a world of, “No’s” these incredible survivors were living, ” Yes!” despite all obstacles. They reached out to hold my hands and I felt like I couldn’t hold each of them long or close enough. I have never felt such an outpouring of pure and simple love. It is Christmas Eve and I miss my loved ones back home. I count my blessings every day to have these people in my life but there was no where I would have rather been in that moment at the camp. I saw humanity in all its brilliant resiliency and felt sure the world could not forget its best hope for a more peaceful future….our children. I’ve heard that it takes a village to raise a child and a child to raise a village. Today I understood that with all of my being because my life was changed by these children, my expectations of myself were raised because the world became my village today.

We travelled well past a safe hour to be on the road because we stayed a bit too long at the camp. There was an eery silence in the car as it grew darker but later Gabriel and I talked about how neither one of us was afraid. I think that is because we had just stood surrounded by the bravest little faces on earth and felt the stronger for and more determined by their shining example.

Merry Christmas Eve to my dear Rene, Mama and my Entire Family( including The Staurings), I love you so much! Hello to the Girls, The amazing i-Act team back home, All those following this journey, the Agape family, dear friends and all those tirelessly working to make The Gift of Peace Project come together while I’m away!

May we all come together during this holiday season, take action and protect all the innocent civilians of Darfur. The world is our village…..

Peace, Stacey

Gabriel co-founded Stop Genocide Now in 2005, which gave birth to i-ACT in 2009.

He became involved in the situation in Darfur out of a sense of personal responsibility. He believes the power of community and compassion, combined with personal empowerment, can bring about meaningful change.

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Comments

24 Responses to “The First Visit”
  1. Renee Larios says:

    Dear Stacey,

    I’ve been following your journey each day. I was in tears this morning when you described the children all saying “Yes” again and again. Today is Christmas Eve and I will hold you, Gabriel and the children of Darfur in my heart – AND do something about it at the Action Table when I go to All Saints today to see my own child sing in the Christmas program. Love always, Renee (from All Saints Church)

  2. Anonymous says:

    Dear Stacey,
    I hope you are doing well. I’m very happy that you and my dad made to the camps. I just loved the video when you were with the children.

    Merry Christmas
    Noemi Stauring

  3. Tova says:

    Stacey
    I’m so proud of you. You are amazing and brave. ‘m too busy crying right now to say much, but thank you for doing this.
    love
    Tova

  4. Gloria White-Hammond says:

    Hi Stacey-
    I want to encourage with one of my favorite accounts from the days of the Civil Rights Movement.

    The story is told of an old woman known as Mother Pollard. She refused all suggestions that she drop out of the Montgomery Bus Boycott on account of her age. When one preacher told of his effort to give her a ride rather than have her walk to her destination, she adamantly refused. Mother Pollard answered spontaneously, “My feets is tired, but my soul is rested.”

    Stacey, I can well imagine that while your body is weary, your spirit is energized. Thank you for being the good news for the wonderful people you will encounter over the next few days. Please reassure them that we are working hard on their behalf and like Mother Pollard we do intend to prevail!

    Blessings, Gloria

  5. Pamela says:

    I immediately became excitged when I learned that you all had made it safely to Achebe. The video of the women and children brought tears to my eyes and I am still very teary as I type. Thank you for bringing the world closer.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Hi, Stacey,
    Bless you and Gabriel — this is an amazing journey. I will hold you both in light as you continue your quest to show the world what is happening.
    Is there any footage available here in LA that we might be able to use in a DoP video Paul is creating? Would need it within the next couple of days… otherwise, we’ll talk when you return for the next video, to be created following the Feb. conference.
    We’re working on Gift of Peace — sent out the e-mail call-out to the LA area volunteers.
    Again, my heart and my thoughts are with you.
    hugs,
    Terry Mason

  7. Anonymous says:

    Stacey-
    I’m so glad you made it to the camps. What beautiful faces! Can’t wait to read/see what’s going on these next days. I emailed every one I knew telling them about you and the website (including Oprah, Ellen, and Michael Franti) :) Missed sitting next to u @ at Agape, although in my prayer you were right in my heart. I send you much love and peace. Thank you and Gabriel for your brave, selfless actions. Merry Christmas Eve.
    Love, Julia

  8. teresa says:

    Hi Stacey,
    I think we all had a sigh of relief to know you all made it safely to Abeche. The video was wonderful to watch. It’s amazing how these children can still smile and laugh after all they go through. It’s obvious from your heartfelt words how this has affected you. The Stauring Family will celebrate Christmas Eve tonight and we will have you and Gabe and the people of Darfur in our thoughts. I am sure this will be one of your most precious Christmas ever.
    Teresa

  9. Anonymous says:

    Stacey, Thank you for writing about your experience – it touches my heart. You wrote, “one sweet little boy continually placed my camera back on my shoulder when it would slip off…” I love those souls in the world that notice and do the small things that make life easier. I wonder what this little boy dreams about and who he will become. I wonder if he will be able to hold on to that part of his soul as the demands of his world crowd in on who he was created to be. Esther

  10. Anonymous says:

    Merry Christmas!

    Darin

  11. Yuen-Lin says:

    May “pure and simple love” lead us along a path that brings happiness to ourselves, our families and everyone in the village Earth.

  12. Jamie Dawson says:

    Stace:

    The world is indeed a village…if only we could apply the simple lessons to the global population. I am following along your journey, best I can, and wish you all the positive vibes and energy I can from where I sit, near my own precious child, near my reason. You have my love and respect and admiration and support, old friend….

    Jamie Dawson

  13. Chris says:

    Dear Stosh,

    Merry Christmas! You’re doing a wonderful job. I’m so proud of you. Mom’s been trying to send a comment unsuccesfully and I’m checking out the system for her, so hopefully you’ll hear from her presently. Everyone misses you and sends their love. Keep up the good work and take care of yourself.

    Love,
    Chris

  14. Mom says:

    My dearest Charlie…
    Merry Christmas my brave little
    girl! Love and Christmas wishes
    to Gabriel, Ali, and all the warm,
    smiling faces I see in your videos.
    I have sent several comments but do
    not know why they have not gone
    through. I am on my way to Mass
    right now and will hold you and
    Gabe and the people of Darfur in my
    thoughts and prayers. Words simply
    fail to express what I feel right
    now! Till I receive todays video..

    love, pride, respect Mom

  15. Siseen says:

    Hi Stacey.
    Siseen Here. It’s Dec.25 at 9:15 a.m. and I’m teary-eyed after reading the journals by you and Gabriel. They are indeed inspiring. I’m not able to see the videos(for some reason I have not figured out as yet), but still your words paint the picture of love and hope for peace on the Darfur section of earth. You are “His hands and feet” What a wonderful gift of Christmas. I am spreading the news to everyone I can. If there’s anything else we can do, let me know.

    Much love and prayers for you and the entire team,

  16. saritasmiles@hotmail.x says:

    vem darling trying desparately to leave you a love filled message …. hope this gets to you …. waiting to see your face….wishing your gigantic effort makes a difference..knowing your presence there will…………all my love sarah todd

  17. Anonymous says:

    stace, tears in abundance this eep morning …god speed to you keep on keeping it together as much as dyou can and keep smiling for the children….you know you must………st and gas

  18. Marilyn says:

    So glad you were able to fly…(and if you’re a nervous flyer, as am I, then it took a LOT for you to fly halfway around the world.) All I can think to say is YES! You and Gabriel could have stayed at home with your families for the holidays…but instead you said YES! to Darfur. That took enormous courage and I’m deeply touched reading your words and watching the footage.

  19. Anonymous says:

    hi stacey keep safe phil

  20. Anonymous says:

    Dear Stacey,
    Thank you for sharing your journey. I am insipired by your stories and hope that each action like yours will inspire others to follow.
    Sarah

  21. karla_bri says:

    Dear Stacey,

    My art teacher is a very big supporter of what you are trying to accomplish. It was assigned to the students to keep track of your explorations. At first this was just an assignments, but i have grown a personal interest in your motives to make things right in Darfur. I really respect your actions instead of just requesting a change. Im really glad to see that people care
    Yours truely
    Karla Ewell

  22. Anonymous says:

    Dear Gabriel and Stacey,

    I enjoyed watching the different children in the different camps smiling and laughing after everything that they’ve been through. Your visit has really affected every one of their lives for the better.

    -Yasmin A.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Stacey

    The day 4 video showed me how great it is to come in actual contact with those in need and give support to them in person.
    Good job on your journey so far and keep up the good work.

    Jacob

  24. ANQ says:

    im so glad taht you both made it to the camp safe and sound.

    i cannot recreate how i felt when seeing those childrens faces, they are the ones this whole thing is about, these people are the ones that need our help. it was a crazy felling, just knowing what they are going through, that this is genocide is really occuring at this moment and that there are people like you who actually get up and do something about it. i will pray to GOD for darfur and praise him for people like you.

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