day 8 from gabriel

(written 12/27/06–8:17pm)

Days are flying by now. We have a hectic schedule, from the time we open our eyes in the morning, until we close them to go to sleep, late at night.

There are so many things, little and small, that have to get done everyday, so that we can send you the daily video and journal. The i-ACT team back home takes care of so many things, and I’m pretty sure they’re not getting enough sleep and are making everything right on the website and getting the word out.

The Africa side of the team is in the flow of a very full routine. Here’s what a normal day looks for us, although there is not really one normal day.

We wake up anywhere between 6 and 8am. We have to gather our things and get ready for going to the camp, making sure our equipment is all charged and that we have enough tapes.

We head out to a camp, driving on unpaved, bumpy, sandy roads. When we get to a camp, we first register with the gendarmes (Chadian guards), then the NGO camp managers, and then a refugee representative.

Then we get to walk the camp, recording the stories you see at our website.

After a few hours at the camp, we head back to our home away from home, a little hut at the local UNHCR compound. We shower and eat.

Then comes the long process of preparing the material for you. We might have about five hours of tape on one day, and from that we have to figure out what 8 minutes to include on the video for the day. This is a long, very long process.

The downloading of the video is real time, so that it takes as long to download as it took to live-record.

Next comes the editing, which is a job that requires attention to detail, something that is not easy when you’re tired. We do our editing on a MacBook, which really helps. Their i-Movie HD is great. I do the hands-on-the-computer editing, with Stacey helping on making the choices of clips and which direction to go for the day’s video.

As I am typing this, the video for today is compressing, and it is now 1:49am. This is pretty normal. I still have to download pictures from my camera, and then I upload the video and any pictures that I chose to a server, from which Yuen Lin and Carolyn take it for you to see.

Besides this, we spend a lot of time writing for the blog. The one part that we love every day is reading your comments. It makes us feel a part of this amazing community of upstanders, regular people that not willing to let Darfur continue to be destroyed.

We end our day between 2am and 4am, and then we go again. I did not mention our meals, which are usually not very exciting–a can of tuna and some nuts–and do not take very long (although today we bought some eggs from the UNHCR kitchen).

Well, it took me til after 4am to finish today’s work, and it is now 6:35am and time to get ready to head out to camp. Day 9 coming is under way!

Peace,
Gabriel

Gabriel’s replies to comments

Hey Rachel:
Please tell Max that I am very proud of him, and that I can’t wait
until we all take a trip to Africa together. Darfur WILL be peaceful,
so maybe we come celebrate with our friends. Abrazos a toda la
familia. Say hi to Michael and big David also.

Dear Mimi:
Thank you so much for the support and kind wishes. We’ll bring Camp
Darfur to your town very soon!

Phyllis:
What a wonderful post! You are so right. We take for granted so many
things back home. We are so, so privileged. We should not feel
guilty, but we should feel responsible. We are in a position that
gives us the opportunity to help others. The people we are meeting in
the camps, after all they have gone and are going through, are still
able to be strong, help each other, and be welcoming to us. We have
no excuse. Thank you for taking action! This is what i-ACT is all
about. Awareness is good, but only if it is awareness that leads to
action.

Hi Missy:
Thank you for allowing yourself to be “changed” at seeing what is
happening in Darfur. When we do nothing, we are really giving up a
part of us. We become more full when sharing in the passion of
others—compassion.

Hello Lisa Goldner and family:
A big hug to you for not being a passive viewer. Thank you for
passing on the information, for sending letters to congress, and for
contacting the President. The people here tell us over and over
again, we need protection, and we have waited too long. It is way,
way too long.

Dear Stacey’s mom:
Karen, I love reading your comments. You are so right to say “our
family in Darfur.” That is the shift in thinking that has to happen
in the world. We cannot continue looking for ways to divide, when we
share so much and we gain so, so much from each others cultures. You
and your daughter are all heart, and I am so lucky to have met you
both at that first Camp Darfur.

Hello my Canadian sister, Meron:
The Canadian delegation that came to Camp Darfur in April is so much
loved. You and my brother Ray and his entire family are exceptional
stand-up human beings. You know, you mentioned “stark contrast” in
your comment. This trip has been so much about stark contrasts:
contrast between our experiences and theirs; contrast between the
amazing natural scenerya and the dangers that they mean for refugees
that leave the camp; contrasts between the beauty in their souls and
the horrors they have been through. Thanks for being with us, Meron.

Hola Connie:
Yes, you quote one of my favorite sayings, by Joseph Campbell:
Participate Joyfully in the Sorrows of the World. All the words there
are very important, but, at this moment, PARTICIPATE is the word that
we must embrace. As I was telling Meron above, so many contrasts.
Joy and sorrow do happen at the same time. Me saludas a todos en
Monterrey, hermana!

Mimi hermosa!
I am very proud of you! You helped me in deciding to take the first
step and not be a bystander. You have started very young at being an
upstander! Te quiero, mi chiquita. Give a big hug to your little
brother Gabo, and tell him that I love him a lot and will come home
soon. I miss all of you.

Tere:
Seeing Mouna also had a punch-in-the-gut kind of effect on me. Thanks
for taking the time to write to our representatives in Congress. It
is so important for them to know that we care, and that we care in a
real, active sense, not in political talk. I think I mentioned this
before, but it is so true, Samantha Power says that many people care,
but not many are willing to do what it takes to make a difference.
Thank you for taking ACTION.

Hello Diana:
Thank you for sharing i-ACT with others. I will be coming to see you
and the Student Task Force, when I get back, so that we can continue
to think of ways to create action that will immediately help the
people you are meeting through the video.

Hello Markus C!
Stacey has told me about you and others in Germany. Thanks for
logging on. I hope you get to watch the videos. Please e-mail our
team back home for help, if you wish. There is an e-mail address on
each day’s page.

Dear Nina and Mark:
I agree, Stacey is amazing. The children, and adults!, love her here.
Thank you for your encouraging note.

Hello again, Stacey’s mom:
We are a very tight and effective team here. The i-ACT on the ground
team, with Yusef and Ali, has made it through the first half of the 14
days. Thanks for your wonderful posts. You are very much a part of
the home-base team!

Hello Jake:
Your are so right. It does feel overwhelming, and it is what we can
do together that has to make the difference. It is clear that
democracy, as it works in our country, is not just about electing
officials and then leaving them on their own, expecting them to make
the right decision. We have to stay on them and make sure that they
do what we believe to be right. Jake, thank you and your team at
Wildwood. The Student Task Force is way cool.

Pam O:
Yes! More global UBUNTU in 2007!
We have to stay hopeful. The people here are so amazing, so resilient.
They want so much to move forward. We have to fight indifference
with caring and compassion. It’s all about what we share…humanity.

Dear Carla:
Thank you for your kind words. Working together on those postcards,
with the beautiful faces of girls and boys that I’m now seeing in
person, was such a great start for me. I love how I’ve been able to
connect with so many caring people through working on this.

Antonio G:
I’m assuming that you’re my good friend, with whom I was recently with
in DC, protesting at the Sudanese Embassy. Thanks for staying active
on this and for always being available to make some NOISE.

Hey Mimi S:
Thanks for continuing to follow us along and for caring about our
safety. We made it through to two refugee camps, and we are making
careful decisions, so that we stay safe.

Hola Connie!
Que tal todo en Monterrey? Lo que dices sobre el papa que no puede
pensar en el future es tan sierto. Lo estoy viendo eso mucho mas esta
vez. Ya han estado tanto tiempo esperando y sufriendo, que tiene que
ser tan dificil mantener la esperanza…pero tratan! No me imagino
como pueden sentirse al no saber si sus hijos e hijas algun dia podran
vivir libres y con dignidad.

Hello Juan C Luna:
Thanks for the note.

Hey Evonne!
Thanks for your concern and prayers. I’ll see you back in LA, and I
know we’ll work together very soon.

Dear Laura:
Thanks for telling all of your friends and family about what we are
doing, and thank you for your kind words. We do hope that the stories
that people tell through i-ACT help to inspire people to act. The
urgency of the situation demands immediate action, and we cannot let
our leaders take their time as so many people suffer.

Hello pfelixm:
Thank you for your note and for telling others about i-ACT. We need
many, many to take a step forward and act…now.

Hello Tasha:
It has been quite a journey, and there’s more to come! At first, it
is the physical journey that affects you, but the emotional journey
soon overtakes it.

Hello Mike:
Stacey has told me about you and about your project. I know that if
you are a friend of Stace’s, then you must be a great guy. Thanks for
taking logging on.

Hello Phyllis:
What triggered my activism, you asked. Until just some weeks ago, I
worked with abused children and their families, doing in-home therapy.
I had been doing that for four years. I always felt that I wanted to
do more and would talk with my daughter, Noemi (10yrs old), about how
we could become involved. On the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan
genocide, I heart reports about those horrible 100 days, and I felt
shock, anger, and bewilderment. How could the world allow that to
happen? It did not take me long to realize that I was a part of that
world that allowed the genocide to happen. When I started hearing
about Darfur, I knew that I would have to act, one way or another. I
had no excuse not to. I started with my family…two years later,
here I am. For this i-ACT project, our small team has fronted, on
credit and personal funds, most of it, along with a wonderful donation
that came through the beautiful people at All Saints Episcopal Church
in Pasadena. We have probably funding coming through in the near
future, but we’ll hang strong in the mean while. I have not been the
best at fundraising, staying busy on actions. Stacey has volunteered
time and money for eight months of working on Darfur peace. Our
amazing team back home, Yuen Lin, Carolyn, and Tsai Yi have also put
themselves out for this. All of this said, i-ACT has been far from a
sacrifice. It is a privilege, and I know all of the team feels the
same.

Hello amiga Renee!
We are also pretty glad we did not have to drive :)
Thanks for staying with us during this journey. Happy holidays to you
and to everyone at All Saints. Please give a big hug to Ed, Lorna,
and everyone.

Hola mi Zaharita!
Te extrano tanto! Todavia no he podido ver a gente que conoci en los
campos durante el ultimo viaje, pero voy a tratar. Si he visto a
algunas de las personas que trabajan en las agencias. Me dio tanto
gusto ver a Emmanuel, que trabajaba en Abeche con UNHCR. Nos estamos
cuidando mucho, pero como me gustaria poder comer de tu comida y de la
de irais! Wow, como se me antojan unos tacos y unos frijoles! Muchos
besos.

My lilttle Mimi:
Yes, it was so exciting to return to the camps. Thanks for
understanding and allowing me to come during Christmas, the first one
I’m apart from you and the family. I miss you and Gabo a lot. Big
hug!

Dear Gloria:
Working next to you has been more than a privilege. You are an
inspiration, and I know that the people here in the camps can feel
your energy and spirit. Thank you for all that you do, and I look
forward to seeing you again soon.

Hello Leah!
Thanks for staying strong in DC and now allowing he perpetrators to
continue unbothered, as they attempt to destroy the people of Darfur.
I will meet you in DC soon!

Hello Mimi S:
Yes, we also use “Mimi” for my little Noemi, so we have two mimi’s
following us on this trip. Thanks for staying with us and for always
wanting to do more.

Hey Tere:
Happy holidays to you and Charles!

Answering your questions, there is definitely a different feeling in
the camps from what I experienced last year. I don’t know if the word
desperation is the right one, but I can see that maybe they now
believe that things could get worse, instead of better. The children
look in worse shape than any I visited last year. I’m not sure if it
comes through in the video, but they look less healthy, are wearing
more ragged clothing, seem to be hanging on to us more, maybe trying
to find hope in these strange people that visit them. It has been a
tougher trip this time, seeing the hurt they are experiencing, inside
and out.

I’m behind on my responses, so here’s about another comment you made:

Yes! Thanks to the Martino family, Stacey’s clan. Stacey’s mom,
Karen, is so wonderful. I met her when we set up Camp Darfur across
from the UN. I now know why it is that Stacey became the stand up
person that she is, oh, and with a great sense of humor.

Hola Rachel:
Big hug to you and your family. I miss all of you, and I miss being
with everyone for Christmas, and now New Year is coming up. I feel
you close, though.

Dear Tova:
You have a great friend, this Stacey here. Thanks for following us along.

Pam B:
We are now in a tiny little village in Eastern Chad, close to the
Darfur border. We are visiting some of the camps in this general
area, before venturing up north a bit, but that will probably have to
be by plane. It has been pretty cool to have some of the HRW Student
Task Force students coming along on this trip, even during their
holidays. I hope that being able to see the faces of the beautiful
people they are trying to help will motivate them to continue their
great work. Ali says hi to all, and we will attempt to reach Ahmat in
the coming days.

Hello Terry:
Stacey has told me about you and, of course, about the Gift of Peace
project. Thank you for what you do.

Hello Julia:
Thanks for telling everyone, including Oprah! Happy holidays to you
and your family.

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.

Comments

comments

Comments

16 Responses to “day 8 from gabriel”
  1. Phyllis H says:

    Hi, Gabriel and Stacey! Gabriel, thanks so much for your daily routine posting. Your schedule seems so grueling, yet tolerable in its finiteness. . . you know you will be going home soon. Stacey, thanks for relaying that “incident” where the NGO worker seemed so territorial about your having “invaded” her camp!
    Plus, she did seem terribly insensitive to what the children were going to have to live with for the rest of their lives. Does she seriously have no hope that the people of Darfur will someday be able to return to their homes?

    Again, thank you for the amazing photos of smiling faces and such industrious students! Assalam alay kum to Ali your interpreter and Yusef your driver. Who is your cameraman?

    Phyllis

  2. Marilyn says:

    Gabriel, thank you for the details of your day-to-day experience there. Thank you for being there and for being the very caring, kind, compassionate person you are.

  3. Noemi Stauring says:

    Hey Dad,
    It is great that you got to show the children from Darfur how schools like here. I’m very glad that your comming home soon but I also would like to keep on seeing vedios of i-ACT.
    Mimi

  4. Camille says:

    Thank you so much Gabe for all of your work. Seeing all your videos is an inspiration to action. You inspired me to call Seantor Feinstein today and leave a message about Darfur. We need to be doing so much more and make sure that the new UN Secretary General makes Darfur his top priority in not just words but ACTIONS!! Happy New Year, May 2007 bring peace to Darfur.

    Camille from HRW.

  5. Javi says:

    Dear Gabe and Stacey,

    Your courage has allowed us to experience such extreme feelings. The absolute beauty of the people living in the camps…. and the horrendous reality that they must endure. Thank you for opening our eyes and our hearts. It is up to all of us to respond to these feelings.

    Stay safe,
    Javi

  6. connie says:

    Oye Gabe,fiijate no se si sea el momento pero quiero darte la noticia de que celebraremos con boda mi embarazo,estoy feliz y se me hacia eterno esperar mas para compartirlo la fecha todavia no esta definida,para tu regreso ya la tendremos fijada.Quiereo que tu seas el padrino del pequeno.TU feliz hermana,Amor y paz,Connie

  7. connie says:

    INOCENTE PARA SIEMPRE!!!!

    espero te haya hecho
    reir un poquito hoy 28
    de Dic.Connie

  8. Anonymous says:

    Hey, Gabriel!

    With the kind of pace you and Stacey are keeping, you must truly be supercharged by your passion for this cause. It’s amazing what you are packing into each day! We’ll add the power of our prayers, too, and ask continued safe travel for you. Your “home team” (family and colleagues) are also making superb efforts for i-ACT. We all appreciate your many sacrifices.

    We hope Bashir will honor his agreement to enact the first phase toward peace so the AU force can be supplemented with military officers, UN police, and other international staff members, as well as military equipment.

    Your efforts are helping to keep the dreams of these Darfurians alive until some of this promised relief comes through.

    Buenos noches y paz,

    Lisa Goldner and family
    Texas

  9. teresa says:

    Hi Gabe and Stacey,
    The differences between the children at this camp from the ones at the previous camp are noticeable as detailed in Stacey’s blog. Is it that some camps receive more provisions than others? Or is it that just some are better organized by their leaders than others? The children at this camp seem so much more disciplined and a bit more reserved. The other children seemed so much happier even though their conditions seem worse.

    Your schedule is so grueling but I am sure that the adreneline kicks in along with your passion and commitment to what you are doing and that keeps you going. You can at least have the satisfaction of knowing that you are doing something to help the people of Darfur. Take care.

  10. charles says:

    Ahlan Gabe,
    Kafe Hasuha? Last night I heard encouraging news on Aljazeera that President Bashir would allow the UN and Africian Union to enter Darfur for a peaceful solution. Hope this turns out to be true.
    Your journey has been enlightening.
    Salam Aleykom.
    Saleh (Charles)

  11. Anonymous says:

    Gabe is good to see you and the work you are doing. Your presentation and videos are excellent. Ok, so mom was at your home and called from there to tell me of Connie’s incredible news, lol! something to celebrate when you come back.

    jc

  12. Anonymous says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! -Julia

  13. Elaine says:

    Hey Gabe,

    It’s been a while and I hope all is well with you and your beautiful family. There was an article about you and the organization in the Daily Breeze this morning and I was extremely moved especially watching the videos. Seeing the children and the families, reading their stories of what they went through and what they continue to go through is heart breaking. You are a true inspiration!!

  14. Samuel says:

    Dear Gabriel

    I want to thank you for sharing your experiences with the public. I also want to apploud your compassion and perserverence for the refuges in Darfur

    Peace and love

    Samuel

  15. Anonymous says:

    Dear Gabriel and Stacey,

    I liked how you showed children from the U.S. reading messages to children in Darfur. I think it gave the children in Darfur hope and happiness that others are thinking about them.

    -Yasmin A.

  16. alan kim says:

    Dear Gabriel,
    What happend to that person is very very sad. How his family died while he ran away must have been very emotionally hurtful. How he must have been able to coax after that incident must have taken many months. The video was very moving and it shows how if we dont change things in Darfur, even more people would die and many people will be heart broken to see one of their loved ones dieing.

    Peace and love,
    Alan

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