Day 2: July 11, 2007

Yuen-Lin’s Day 2 journal

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?


9 replies on “Yuen-Lin’s Day 2 journal”

I agree, what better way to show people what is happening than through I-ACT. You guys are awesome. Be safe

Dear Yuen-Lin,

This battle does have high consequences. Lives lost, families displaced. In fact, many may feel as if there is nothing that they an do. But there is. Spread the word! I-ACT is an innovative way for us to stay connected and, most importantly, not stay silent.

Press on!

Hi Yuen-Lin,
How is it going?Its great that your over there helping out my dad and aunt.Hope that it goes well in your first trip to Africa.
Good job with all the tech stuff!

Dear Gabriel, Connie, and Yuen-Lin,
The words spoken by Ann are so true and represent the soul of the people of Darfur. It made me think of all the whining that is done for the minor daily irritations of life in LA. What a wonderful concept she has put forth.
Please be careful and remember her words of the “Unexpected”. Go in peace and be careful.
I look forward to completing my day watching your video. It allows me to put into an honest perspective what honor, pride, and survival are really about.
Mimi Schiff

Hi, Yuen-Lin!

It’s phenomenal that you can juggle the tech support in the field as well as getting so involved in the interviews and blogging! Thank you and the support team back home for providing such a tremendous interactive link for all of us to share in this experience. Despite your past travels into other impoverished areas not quite comparing to what you’re currently experiencing, it must add to your sense of compassion, knowing those in this region bear such enormous stress and vast uncertainty about their future. It is sad and frustrating that there’s such deterioration of already limited resources in the prime support areas. Thanks for your team helping all of us feel better connected to the lives of those in this region, from government officials, to NGOs, and most importantly, the refugees in need.


Lisa Goldner

Hello Ko-ko. : ) Just dropping by to tell you how proud I am to have such a courageous, big-hearted brother. I’m trying to get everyone I know to visit this website. I think what you guys doing is incredible and heroic in a way that’s almost indescribable. Thank you for risking your wellbeing to bring hope and relief to people who are practically wallowing in hardship and suffering. I offer to help in any way that I can. This is a battle that I, as a fellow human being, am under moral obligation to fight as well. And I promise that I will try my best to do so.

Please take care of yourselves. You will always have my support.

Dear MaryAnn:

Thanks for your kind words. We will certainly try our best to be safe :)

Dear Sylvia:

Indeed. I think it is not hard to feel that way when faced with a situation like this, but luckily, it is also not hard to overcome that feeling. I think the first step is a very important one: it serves as “proof” to oneself that one is truly empowered, and it also gives positive feedback to the conscience; that hey, I felt that something was very wrong, did something about it, and that felt very right so I’ll do it again next time. About i-ACT, we have only scratched the surface of using technology to connect people around the world with people from Darfur. We hope to deliver much more going forward :)

Dear Mimi Stauring (sorry I’ve to use your full name as there are two Mimi S :):

Thanks for your kind wishes. It’s going good! It’s nice how one gets a lot of drive in work like this because it feels meaningful and important; so much so that even lack of sleep is bearable :) Btw, I read one of your other comments as well, and I think you write very well!

Dear Mimi Schiff:

Thank you. I’m honored that you choose to end your day following our journey, and glad it offers perspective. It has for me as well. I feel that sometimes, we live in an imbalanced or unnatural way with respect to the complete reality of the world, but that gaining more understanding and more connection with it helps us “calibrate” ourselves.

Dear Lisa:

Thank you for your kind words and support! It is very rewarding to know that you feel better connected through what we’re doing :) It has been said that understanding in the basis of love, and I think in any conflict, love as it can manifest in all forms — personal, diplomatic — is the surest path to resolution. You can be sure we’ll continue finding ways to apply technology directly towards connecting across existing barriers; we have only realised a small part of the potential. You are right on that witnessing these scenes for oneself fuels compassion. I mentioned today to Gabriel: wouldn’t it be cool if there was a full-fledged media organization whose work was to send i-ACT like missions to all the places in the world where there was a lack of global witnessing?

Dear JL:

Your words made me feel very warm, and hearing from you by itself makes this all worthwhile :) Support from someone so close is the most potent of all. I agree that there is moral obligation: some say dismissively that there are so many other instances of intense suffering in the world, but I think it is right to respond to one’s capacity whenever there is a plea for help, which in many cases comes implicitly by learning about a particular case. Thanks for helping spread the word. Back home in Malaysia there is very little awareness about Darfur, and Malaysia is more well-linked to Sudan than many other countries. So, that is very valuable. We will take good care. Hope to hear from you again :)

Dear Yuen Lin:

The takeaway is indeed very true. The statement “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.” is very powerful.

Please take good care of yourself too !

Dear Swee Ting:

Thank you. I’ve been taking good care, and I owe a lot to “orang tersayang” (name omitted for privacy) for all her help preparing for this trip.

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