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…..