Hello friends and family :)
Apologies for my silence so far; I have been quite swamped with tech work! We are exploring new ways of making the personal connections between you and the people of Darfur ever more personal, and ever closer to being just like neighbours though many miles apart. The energy and commitment on this team is a testament to the human spirit, especially so during these missions. How Connie and Gabriel manage to handle all the daily i-ACT business, then come back and work for hours more on editing the day’s footage, writing journal entries, even translating them. How the core team back home (Carolyn, Katie-Jay, Tsai-Yi, Rachel) work full days, then go home and work full nights on i-ACT. I know I’m not alone in saying that your efforts are not in vain.
I was in India recently, and saw the contrast that people often describe in their world travels: pockets of affluence surrounded by poverty of varying degrees. So far in N’djamena, despite traveling mainly in the area surrounding the presidential palace, we have seen almost no signs of affluence. Instead, we have seen soldiers, crowds of people idling, petrol dispensed in beverage bottles on wooden tables by the road, a government office less well-equipped than our hotel room. The faces of terms we often hear: militarisation, unemployment, lack of infrastructure. Interspersed among all of this, modern, well-fenced embassies. Reminders that often, not enough compassion makes it past national borders. As a newcomer, my observations are superficial at best, but it is certain we are in a place which has a lot to teach us.
We had a good chat with Ann Maymann today. I sense she has had to deal with many people who come to her with good intentions, but not enough information about on-the-ground realities and as a result, poor strategy. There is a take-away from this. As Darfur activists, I feel we are fighting a battle. Not a battle for our own conscience, not even a battle against injustice, but a battle to save lives and restore lives. The price of defeat is lives lost and lives derailed. In this frame of mind, what matters is not just what feels good, but what has really solid impact. Impact in terms of empirical results is hard to assess in this case, but we can be guided by things we know with some certainty. One is that through personal connections, friendship can arise. A second is that friends look out for each other. A third is that with enough friends in the world, the people of Darfur are much more likely to enjoy peace and safety.
So then let me end with a plea to you, to bring more of your friends and family into personal contact with the people of Darfur. i-ACT is a good tool for this; indeed, I think it’s the best we’ve got. i-ACT has made a solid impact on thousands of people. Now what if it touched millions?