Day 12: Jan 1, 2007

Day 12 from Gabriel

Man, that road is bumpy! Another three hours roundtrip on the road today, and I’ve been shaken as much as anyone can be.

I was able to see Nourasham and family today, and what a beautiful family they are. The new member of the family, an aready walking 10 month old girl, Hajra, is as pretty as her older sister, Hadia. The boys welcomed me with smiles and many words I could not understand, but they made me happy. Nourasham is adapting to life without her husband, who was killed only two months after I met Nourasham and the family. It has not been easy for her, but she is strong. She has no other family in this camp, but she has made good friends with neighbors, and they support and help each other. It was so nice to spend time with her and the other children that joined. There is a strong sense of community around Nourasham.

On the bumpy ride back, I thought a lot about the future of Nourasham’s children. What kept coming to my mind, and I really did not want to think about that, was that I was back to visit them after one year, and there are no good news for them. All I can do is promise that many of us will keep working so hard to help them, but my heart sinks at the thought of me having to come back a year from now, to find Nourasham and her children there, waiting for me to sit with them on a mat and share a moment, with still no hope of a full future.

After visiting Nourasham, we went back to see the families that have recently arrived to the outskirts of this camp. It is such a deeply depressing sight, the families living under no shelter, with the few things they were able to grab, as they fled their land being destroyed. They are not yet refugees, not officially anyway, so they do not get to settle inside of the camp, and they do not get the tent or the ration cards. How bad must they feel that they do not raise just yet to the status of refugee, as if it was something to aspire to. I have said earlier that living as a refugee is a less than complete life. Well, these new arrivals almost do not exist.

They are, though, complete persons! They are no different than any one of us. I tried to shake everyone’s hand, after we showed them From Amercia with Love, and I looked at their eyes, as I was doing this. It is a strange feeling, looking in to the eyes of someone. There must be some evolutionary aspect to that gut level connection, at looking eye to eye.

I am again pretty tired from last night of editing, today of traveling, and now I have to get back to editing. The days continue to flye by. They are so much packed with so much experience.

I wish you all a Happy New Year! Mi familia, I miss you a lot and would really love a hug right about now.

Paz, Gabriel

Gabriel’s replies to comments

Hola Mimi: Como estas, mi chiquita? I also liked seeing the healthy little babies, and I loved holding one of them, even though she cried because she wanted mommy. Yes, we are getting close to Day 14, and I can’t wait to get home to see you and Gabo. Thanks for writing, mi Mimi hermosa. Un beso. papi

Hello Marilyn: Thank you for sharing with others what you are seeing on our videos. It was a nice emotional break to spend time with the beautiful, healthy babies. The next day was not as easy on us, but we are OK, and we get to go home soon. Thank you, Marilyn, for staying with us throughout this journey.

Hello Marissa: Thanks for your note and positive thoughts. We will stay safe. I’m sorry we missed your sister, but I know we’ll get to work together soon.

Hello Gayle from Oz! Happy New Year! I wish you well on your travels. Thank you so much for your energy. It was great to spend time with Ashis, our common friend. We will stay in touch. Many hugs.

Hey Connie: You are so right. We just cannot count on our leaders for doing what is right, just because it is right. Other interests usually take precedence over basic human rights. The change has to come from the bottom up. I truly believe in grassroots activism, person to person, family to family, as a force to bring about change. We have to make the decision to lead our leaders. We have to make sure to elect those that take at heart: Humanity before Politics.

Hello Auriel and Ginny! Thank you so much for writing. I have been sharing, over and over again with the people I meet, that there is this amazing group of young people, members of the HRW Student Task Force, that are teaching adults what Responsibility to Protect is all about.

Hi Tere: Thanks. Yes, we will be extra safe in these last few days of our trip. It is very sad, that the fact that a genocide is currently taking place is not enough to push the world to act. I have to repeat what I said to Connie, we have to do a better job of picking leaders, and we have to stay involved after we pick them.

Hello Mimi Schiff: Yes, this trip has been all about contrasts. I hope so much that the situation changes soon. How much longer can they maintain hope? The world loses part of its soul, when it allows part of its beauty to be destroyed.

Hi Phyllis: Thanks for the information. The LA Times is right to report that Al Bashir has backtracked on promises and agreements before. The Government of Sudan is a master at playing the international community. Until we see an effective and robust international peacekeeping force with the right mandate on the ground in Darfur, we cannot accept words, spoken or written, as a sign of progress. We’ve been going through four years of broken promises and agreements. Thanks for sharing, and thanks for what you do with the STF at Venice High!

Hey, Thamar! So nice to hear from you! I very much enjoyed working with you, visiting abused children and their families in California. I’m doing some of the same stuff out here, kinda. Thank you for your kind words, and I look forward to hearing from you again.

Hello Renee: Please say hi to your beautiful daughter Nicole. I am smiling happy here, thinking of her with her suitcase full of food, arriving at the N’djamena airport :) Yep, the babies here do love their “chichi,” just like children all over the world. The mothers here are just amazing! The women are the power that keeps these camps going. Hugs.

Hello Christina, from Pali High! Happy New Year to you too! We feel so supported by all of you, and we’re sharing this support with the people we meet. Thanks, and I’ll see you at Pali soon.

Hello Ron Z: Thanks for doing so much. Please pass on hugs to all that are working with you at the Temple Israel’s (Long Beach, CA) Darfur Task Force, the Social Concerns Committee of the South Coast Interfaith Council, and the ABC Federation of Teachers’ Human Rights Committee. You are right. The US has done a lot to send aid to the displaced people of Darfur, but so much more has to be done. Genocide cannot be continued to be confronted with food and aid alone. Thanks for being an upstander!

Hi Stacey’s Mom: Stacey has been more than courageous. She is your daughter :) Thank you for delivering flyers all over the place and for continuing to spread the word. Happy New Year!

Hello Sandy: Thank you for your company and posts. There is hope, and I only wish that this hope materializes in to a world that is more about united and what makes all of us the same.

Hey Mariano and Martin: Stacey has told me a lot about her days teaching in Germany. Thanks for keeping an eye out for Stacey, as she travels with me.

Hi Markus: Stacey is OK. She, like I, is going through some heavy ups and downs, as we visit people that have been through so, so much. But she is sharing all of her with the people she meets, and is very much appreciated.

Hey Phillys: Thanks for the responses to Day 10’s challenge. #2 hit it right on the nail. On the one hand, the US call what is happening in Darfur a genocide. On the other hand, the US looks the other way, as it “massages” Bashir for intelligence. We have to say, genocide is not negotiable, and we will not trade lives for intelligence.

12 replies on “Day 12 from Gabriel”

Hi Gabriel and Stacey,

Happy New Year! Your videos and posts are bringing us all closer together in hope and in a renewed commitment to end the genocide in Darfur. My prayers are with you each day. May God bless the people of Darfur this year by bringing them home.


“I tried to shake everyone’s hand…and I looked at their eyes, as I was doing this.” Surely they felt the intent, kindness and compassion for them that you must feel. It sounds so windy in some of the videos, so I can only think that there must be a lot of dust and dirt flying around. What are the temperatures there this time of year? Thinking especially about those newly-arrived refugees who are so exposed to the elements. Can you explain a tiny bit about what’s required for new arrivals to be made an official resident of one of the camps?

The posting for Day 12’s comments showed up differently today so I know you’ll also have some comments from today on Day 11.
These 12 days have gone by so fast and before we know it days 13 and 14 will have past as well. I can say that I do feel a stronger connection with the people of Darfur after joining you on the first and now second journey to the camps. It is hard to imagine the trauma the new refugees must experience and how difficult it must be emotionally and physically to adapt to the new conditions they are forced to live in. They thank America for caring about them and put all their hope in America for a better future. We must not let them down.

Hi, Gabriel and Stacey! I glean from the comments that Gabriel’s married to Zahara, and his daughter is Mimi, and his son is little Gabriel or Gabo. What a sacrifice you and your family have made to allow Gabriel to
make this dangerous trip to Chad! I’m not sure I would have been able to support my husband’s quest for justice when my children were so young. Sounds so selfish of me.

Stacy’s family, too, must miss her terribly. You are both so brave and unselfish.

Well, for many people in sunny Southern California, their biggest dilemma was where to park for the Rose Bowl game between USC and Michigan! USC won, by the way. I wonder if the refugees of Darfur think we’re just MAD (as in insane) to be so preoccupied with all our amusements!

I hope you have a safe and wonderful journey home. The kinds of things that annoy Americans at home PALE in comparison to the suffering you’ve seen in Darfur. We are so soft and whiny in comparison. I’m sure you will have to brace yourself for reentry into the U. S. A. I have to keep reminding myself how fortunate I
am, and thank you both for helping me to remember!

Have a safe journey home, Phyllis

Wow, this is truly an amazing and honorable task that you and your camera crew have taken up. You guys are risking your own futures to bennifit the futures of others. So “good luck” out there! I send my best wishes and just know that there is still hope!
-Maria Cruz

Dear Gabriel and Stacey,

You did this once before, but i just want to acknowledge the fact that you incorporated videos from different countries. I think it’s a great feeling for the children and people of Darfur to hear other people’s views on the war. It gives them a sense of support and love, which is great at this time in Darfur. Moreover, I liked how you had interviews with different kinds of people. It showed diversity.

-Yasmin A.

i continue to pray for this genocide to end and for our government to get more involved.keep up the good work. i wish you all luck. Wha your doing does make a difference.

Gabriel and Stacey,

I love what you guys have been doing to help the people in Darfur. This genocide has to stop and you guys are trying your best. I like the fact you guys are helping people that you don’t even know personally and you guys are true humanitarians. Keep up the good work.

Hi Gabriel

Thanks for informing people about this genocide in Darfur. My class has been talking about you for a while, and i hope you come to Palisades once more so people in this class can meat you.

Dear Gabriel,
Happy New Year! I hope good will come to you and the people of Darfur. To the many people who are trying to do something about the genocide situation in Darfur, thank you very much. Everyone should try to help end this war as much as we can.

With love and care,

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