Day 10: Dec 20, 2006

New Life (Day 10 from Stacey)

Greetings From” Camp # 4″,

Today we went to another new camp. The energy there was one filled with community and neighborhood. We both said, ” Let’s just walk down this path and see where the day takes us.” Sometimes we’ll look for women to speak with or families or search for a school but today we just opened our hearts and started walking. Within minutes we ran into a precious little girl named, Fatima holding a VERY beautiful 2 month old, Neijla, in her arms. We immediately started doing all the things people do when they happen upon new life. Lots of “oohs” and ” aahs” and snapping of pictures. Suddenly a beaming face filled with pride peered over the fence and said in perfect English, ” Do you like my baby daughter?” Before we knew it we were inside Mohamed’s living area and exchanging greetings with him and his wife, Leila. Leila was cooking breakfast and I quickly asked if I could PLEEEEAAAASE hold their baby girl. Something welled up in me and I felt like I HAD to hold her. Mohamed nodded, “yes” and Leila smiled warmly. I later found out she didn’t speak english but I guess baby love is universal. Holding this baby the world felt right. She was so new and healthy and loved. She was perfectly clean and guarded with great care by her little 8 year old aunt, Fatima. Talk about renewed hope! Gabriel eagerly said, ” My turn, my turn.” I think we both needed this baby today. We needed to be connected to the ease with which she seemed to be breathing the desert air. She was a direct contrast to the sweet little boy we visited yesterday who seemed to struggle for every breath.

This family’s living area was tended to with so much love and care. The parents were so proud and filled with happiness over their first child. We went next door to meet Mohamed’s mother and nieces and nephews and sister. Here, we spent time with another beautiful 2 month old baby who also had only ever known life in this camp. This mother and child were equally as happy and healthy. It felt like visiting relatives in a small town or in the old row home neighborhoods of my grandparents. There were offers of tea and food the only chair ( which was a small handmade stool.) Everyone felt connected and concerned with each other. You almost forgot for a brief moment where you were and what the situation was. Mohamed teaches in the home as well as running a school with 790 students. No matter how we try to see where the day takes us, it always seems to lead back to education! Gabriel and I both felt a sense of renewed energy after our visit. We needed this family and these babies today as much as they need us to sustain our efforts on their behalf. The circle continues and grows as all of the interconnected people of Darfur and the world nourish and support one another in the hope of a better day.


Stacey’s replies to comments

Hi, Tsai Yi! Yes, it reminded me of Brian S. Wilson’s qoute and life mantra, ” We are not worth more, they are not worth less!” Working with so many people attempting to create a world that works for everyone, I often forget that there is still and ” Us and Them” mentality sometimes, even in people with the best of intentions. Yes,the effects of colonialism are evident and the repercussions still reverberating loudly. The anger of the 18 yr old boy seemed to come from many things including obviously, his experiences in Darfur. I also sensed a very clear desperation to get out of this camp that came from being 18 and feeling trapped in a world with no apparent or clear future. I felt his raw anger and intelligence that would do what it took to get out but beneath it all was a sad child, not yet a man. Peace, Stace

Hi Mark, Sandy and Anthony, No, I didn’t get Mark’s comment. Not sure what happened. So good to hear from you and that you are watching the videos. I missed being at your house and all the fish for Christmas Eve but it felt right to be here. I love you guys, Stacey

Dear Marilyn, The more I think about it, the more i realize that perhaps it is not sheer callousness but a narrow world view and a lack of experience in walking in another’s shoes instead of forcing them to fit into yours. I’m sure her instinct is to help but help to so many of us means empowerment. I understand your thoughts about the children’s video. Perhaps you are right, although I hope that the messages and video served to inspire and strengthen the children rather than cause them pain. I believe that it inspires hope and interconnectedness to know that others around the world have not forgotten. Yet, I hear your point of view and must face that fact that perhaps we are not so different than the NGO woman. The intentions are pure but we will make choices based on our own personal frame of reference which may not work for everyone. This work we all do is always so subjective and based on what each of us personally would crave and need. I endeavor to continue to learn and expand my world view beyond my own experience. Your comment today helped me to walk in the shoes of the NGO woman and try to have compassion for her time here & my perceived lack of her awareness. THAT is a huge lesson in itself and I thank you for that. May we all continue to grow, stay strong in our commitment and united in our efforts to stop this genocide now. Peace, Stacey

Blythe,Thank you for writing and following this journey. Left To Tell is a wonderful book with many lessons. The quest for power always seems to precipitate a genocide. The leaders themselves are usually pyschologically power hungry and they exploit and utilize the poverty stricken in their efforts to attain this unquenchable thirst for power. Misuse of power occurs daily during personal interactions all over the world. Please check out The Climate of Fear by Wolye Soyinka( sp?) for a very clear, visceral and poetic exploration of this theme. Much Love and Light to you also! Stacey

Anonymous, thanks for the support and glad you are learning from this journey! Stacey

Lisa Goldner, I am learning a great deal on many levels here. There have been moments in my short stay here when I felt emotionally empty or exhausted. Your comment has helped me to remember that this kind of work in a world of horrors does strange things to the human spirit. Perhaps I judged the NGO woman too quickly and did not allow myself to walk in HER shoes enough. I am not sure, but I am willing to look at the possibility. I am learning….. it is self righteousness that so often leads to break downs in communication and an inability to work together. I suppose i was feeling a bit territorial myself about the refugees because I feel so personally connected and desperate to protect. Probably within in her own paradigm, she does too. Peace and compassion must always start on a personal level and I will strive to remember that as much as i strive to be a part of giving voice to the people of Darfur. Salaam & Many Blessings, Stacey

Phyllis H. Just sent your greetings to Ali! He was thrilled to see his name here. I wrote a post to Lisa Goldner that talks a lot about the NGO woman. Please take a look at it when you get a chance. You are right about knowing we are going home. That fact makes all the difference here. The smiling faces instantly renew hope, yes? Our camerapeople are Gabriel, myself , Ali( when G & I are both in the shot) and the tripod( when we are all in the shot!). Peace, Stacey

Mimi Schiff, You make very astute observations about the experience with the NGO woman and her possible mindset. I hope there is a balance between protecting the people from the trauma and expressing their feelings. I would love to do a theater workshop that could serve to express their stories before witnesses so that they could be released a bit. Having a trained psychotherapist as part of that workshop would be perhaps crucial. I understand your thoughts about the concerns of it being containable within the camps. The sheer numbers make the work of expressing and releasing difficult. It is also so hard to do the aforementioned in the midst of the ongoing trauma. I have found this with my workshops with people transitioning off the streets. They still have to leave my workshop and face hunger, brutality and sleep deprivation. I have to be very careful in facilitating work that opens wounds while they are still being wounded ( with the homeless women in LA) and I imagine here would be even more difficult. Much to think about….. In the end it is always about a combination of survival and hope I guess. The work continues……Stacey

Hi Mimi! Your dad’s doing great work everyday! See you soon. Thank you for being one of the youngest “leaders” I know. Paz, Stace

Camille, So glad you called Senator Feinstein today! Yes, we must make sure the UN Secretary General makes this his TOP PRIORITY. ACTION! ACTION! ACTION! Stacey

Hi Javi! Great to hear from you. It has been a whirlwind of emotion for all of us experiencing and watching this last week. Thank you for being a part of this journey. You are an inspiration. Peace, Stace

Teresa, you bring up a very interesting point with the children.The other camps felt both more joyous and desperate if that makes sense. They were smiling and happy but also desperate to connect. It felt like they were starving for more hope. Yet, there were the smiles and the energetic running. Then at the most recent camp, the children seemed more serene yet sad if that makes sense. They were calm, relaxed and less starved for connection, but was that because they had given up hope? it is hard to know and will probably take time for us to process our individual opinions. Thank you for all the support, Teresa……Stace

Charles, The problem is that the force being discussed is a ” hybrid ” force that would still be incapable of protecting the people they way they need to be protected. Hope burns eternal but a UN Peacekeeping Force is Necessary and immediately. Anything less than that is going in with one hand tied behind their back. Thanks for following the situation. Salam, Stace

Teresa, I know gabriel will address your questions but I’ll answer some as well. The tradition here is to go with extended family when both parents are gone. The family is very extended here also. In the tradition of the Darfurian people they are technically orphaned when they lose even one parent. So we are talking here, about children that are Orphaned as we use the term. I could tell right away that their are FAR more women than men. Big hug, stace

Hi Phyliis H, I, too, noticed the difference between the girls and boys. The clothing is just part of the custom ( the difference in colors) and I believe that little boys just seem to get dustier( universally!) which makes the health issues more apparent in them. The girls cough just as much but they just do it in brighter, cleaner clothes. The coughs haunt my sleep and probably always will. The NGO we are staying at has generators and we use a satellite modem to upload the videos/ send the blog material you see. I am technically challenged but I know enough to know that our tech team back home, who set us up, are SELFLESS GENIUSES who do this because they care so much. Much Peace, Stacey

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