When you read this journal entry, Stace and I will be in an area that is in the norther part of eastern Chad. We will be flying there, since the security situation does not permit driving. Most aid workers have been pulled from the camps that are in the north, leaving only skeleton crews that deliver only basics to keep refugees alive.
We have decided to add a day, so it will be 15 Days of i-ACT. We will have to wait for a plane to bring us back down, on our way to the capital and then back home, so we want to go back to the visit the camp up there and give you an opportunity to meet more of the people of Darfur.
Please tell everyone you know to check us out through the 15 days, and tell them to stay involved. Let’s start 2007 with meaningful and sustained action. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to look back, at the end of 2007, and think, in this year I helped to stop a genocide.
Gabriel’s replies to comments
Hello Phyllis! It is 2007 now. Happy New Year to you, your family, and all of your students. That’s where there is a lot of hope, Phyllis, in those young people that you get to work with every day. I know that, when they come to positions of more power (because they already have so much power right now), they will not allow atrocities like the ones occurring in Darfur to go unanswered.
Hey Rach! I’m sorry that you had trouble posting, but I know that you and family are always with us. Please say hi to all, and tell Max that I’m thinking of him.
Hello Stacey’s Mom! Yes, I was blown away when Nourasham’s neighbor came over to me and said, “You are Zahara’s husband!” My wife and I both have names that are very common among the people we have been meeting. Gabriel, or Gibril (as they pronounce it), is a name that is in many families, and there are many Zaharas also.
Hola Mimi! It was so cool to find Nourasham, but, yes, very sad to hear that her husband had been killed. Nourasham’s family and home are very much like families and homes in our community. The home is just bursting with tenderness and love. You would love to hang out with the kids. Hadia and the new baby girls are adorable. Gracias por escribir, Mimi. Te extrano pero ya pronto voy!
Hola Mom: Gracias por pasar tanto rato con Zahara y familia y por mandarme recados. He podido comer un poquito mas estos ultimos dos dias, asi que me voy a recuperar un poco, en cuanto a la dieta. Muchos saludos a todos y un abrazo. Pronto nos vemos.
Hello Patty W: Thank you for being with us, and I will pass on to all we meet that there are many out there thinking of them and doing what they can to create peace. Happy New Year, and I know I’ll see you soon back in one of our mutual stops.
Hey Christina R: Thank you, and Happy New Year to you! I do miss my family, especially at a time that I’m used to being with all of them. It’s been nice to have so many of you with me, though, so my family is growing :) Thanks, and I’ll see you soon!
Dear Meron: You are right. None of it is OK. Men and boys being killed, women and girls being raped, entire families being displaced and starved, none of it is OK.
Hi Connie: Nourasham definitely has the courage and will to keep going, after her husband being killed. Her children look healthy, and they are very much loved. They also look happy, but I cannot tell what’s inside of them. Their father was a trader by profession, so they might think that their papa is out on business and will return, as usual. Thinking of my almost 4 years old Gabo, I don’t think that children that young can understand the “never” part of “never coming back.” Nourasham, who does not have any other family in that camp, is the one that does see the void, and she must still stay strong for her four little ones.
Hey Tere: Happy New Year! Thanks for spreading the word. It can be discouraging that more don’t take a few minutes to pay attention to something where so many lives are at stake, but we can’t give up. We have to keep trying, and some will join us. It’s not easy to get people “in the door” on a subject as unpleasant as genocide is. That is why, in part, I also have always focused on the beauty of the people and culture that will be lost, if we all decide to stand by. And, there is so much beauty!
Hi Mimi Schiff: We have to remind “the powers that be in America” that we give them that power, and that they must use it appropriately, or we will take it away. I know it might be a bit naive, but if enough of us decide to set priorities that include humanity at the top, we can change the powers to be.
Dear Lisa: Thank you so much for lighting candles for us and everyone out here at your mass celebrating World Day of Prayer for Peace. I have told Nourasham that many “out there” now know her and her children and are doing so much to help them get back to a life that is full. Let’s make 2007 the year in that Darfur shines in all of its colors.
Hi Marilyn: About next steps upon my return, it has to be about increased action around the country. Our actions must match the situation on the ground for the millions that are in grave danger. We must demand action from our leaders, and we cannot accept political babel as a response. They’ll all say how much they care and they have done, but it is not enough. A group of us, at the grassroots level, have been involved in pushing I Stand With Darfur (http://www.istandwithdarfur.org), a campaign of direct action. I hope that people around the country take this on as their own, as we tell our leaders, No More Business as Usual, as another genocide takes place. There are so many things we can do, and I look forward to hearing ideas . We need to create awareness, but it has to be awareness that leads to immediate action.
Hello Markus: Thank you for your kind words and wishes, and I wish you a great 2007.
Hello Anonymous from Senegal: Thank you for your insight and perspective. I do feel a bit like a fish out of water, but then I also feel completely at home. I completely agree that I will not understand but a small fraction of what I’m encountering, but I hope that we keep taking steps in the right direction, getting closer. From the people we are meeting, there has not been one that has expressed a wish to wait for the AU to find the solution. We should support the AU in getting stronger and more efficient, but we cannot sacrifice the people of Darfur for the process of building a force that may eventually be able to protect. The world has to take on the responsibility to protect. About the people we have met: Dignity-yes; acceptance-no. Not one person is willing to accept death, rape, displacement, and starvation as their lot in life. They are a strong, vibrant people, that want to return to their homes.
Hey Connie: I agree. No matter where you live, you demand from your representatives that they act. This is a crisis that is going on 4 years! How much longer do we wait? It should not be the United States alone; it should be the world! The survivors only know what they have seen: the AU has not been able to do it so far, and they do not accept the fact that the perpetrator is in-beded with the supposed protection force.
Hi Rachel: As you say, the politics of it is complex, but it is innocent civilians that are paying the price. If we put ourselves in their shoes, it is clear that we would be calling for help from anywhere to save our children.
Hi Mimi Schiff: Thank you for sharing the history of the Hamburg. We now have millions of people that are being, in a way, sent back in their own “Hamburg.” We know that it is happening. We have known it for a very long time.
Dear Lisa: I also hope that the President would be watching our videos and seeing the real people that are living through this present day genocide.
Hello Tynia! Thank you for your note. The HRWSTF has been very present, coming along with us on this trip. Please get more people involved and ask them to do the daily actions!