When I first came to this camp, I never had any idea that I would dread this day.
These past few days have been grueling; little or no sleep, less food, extreme heat, the conditions here at our camp are elementary: we fetch our water and bathe with a bucket, no running water, the latrines are communal and just a hole in the ground! And have I mentioned the bugs? We are so accustomed to our plentiful and comfortable lives, The other day a French man who is an architect and works for UNHCR came up to me as I was filling my bucket for my bath and said to me: “Don’t you tiink that is to mosh waater for your liitel boti”? First I wanted to thank him for “liitel boti” to our standards my body is not little. No seriously I was embarrassed that I did not think how scarce and desirable water is in most parts of Africa and how most refugees here use that bucket a day for all the necessities for a family of 7 even up to 10 .I just can not stress with how little, these refugees live! And while some people debate on whether or not this is a genocide or other complicated politics, one thing is very simple; this situation is not HUMAN!
Again we were at the camp and again surrounded and mobbed we visited again all my new friends .We walked through the corridors and many would wave for us to come to their tent and visit with them, we encountered a group of older women who greeted us and one of them curtsied as she shook our hands and another motioned how her clothes were raggedy and had nothing else to wear. I’m telling you the stories; another woman told of how she escaped with her 7 children after her husband was killed and how they hid by day and ran by night with no food. She repeated over and over that she wanted to go home. As we went on I started to feel a bit dizzy and had a terrible headache and told Gabe that I was going to stay in the car. I think that I was also dreading the moment of having to say good-bye to Aljafis, Guisma, Hamara, Sumaya, Darsalam, Mansor, and every one we had met here and represent the 20,000 at this camp. It is so hard to leave all these friends in this horrendous place.Not knowing whether they will ever go home and if their present condition would deteriorate more.
I took a few minutes, to work up the courage and I came out smiling and taking pictures. It was one last reunion. I said goodbye, there were a few hugs with the kids and we were off.
I am sure you know how I was feeling at the time. Amor y Paz,Connie
11 replies on “Connie Journal”
Oh Connie ….. good-byes are often difficult but under these circumstances, I can’t imagine how torn you must have felt.
The whole purpose of being there was to make true human connections, to engage, to share and to tell – as honestly and authentically as possible. How could you do that without becoming connected and sharing your own soul? And then having to deal with the wrench that came with leaving that connection in the physical sense.
You are doing great – and you are doing it so honestly and beautifully. There is much for you to be proud of – not the least of which is being so connected to your own humanity.
We are with you all, in understanding and empathy. Despite the conditions there is a certain kind of beauty that radiates and I see in the Darfarian refugees and in you as well! You certainly compose yourself well, in addition to photogragh beautifully! We will continue to walk with you all, on this journey!
g & b
I HAVE BEEN WORKING WITH THE UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST SERVICE COMMITTEE ON DARFUR AND OTHER HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES. I AM SO HAPPY THAT THE UUSC HAS MADE AVAILABLE A LINK TO YOUR SITE.
THE IMAGES AND COMMENTS YOU AND YOUR TEAM ARE SENDING OUT ARE VERY COMPELLING. I AM REMINDED OF THE TIME I SPENT IN GUATEMALAN AND SALVADORAN REFUGEE CAMPS IN THE 80’S.
THOSE REFUGEES TOLD ME THAT THEY DIDN’T HAVE A VOICE- THAT I AND MY GROUP MUST BE THEIR VOICE. WE DID OUR BEST TO DO THAT, AND THE EXPERIENCE WAS TRANSFORMATIVE FOR ME AS THIS ONE SURELY IS FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM
CAROLYN FORCHE COMPILED A BOOK OF POETRY CALLED AGAINST FORGWTTING, 20TH CENTURY POETRY OF WITNESS. I WILL LEAVE YOU WITH SOME WORDS FROM THE INTRODUCTION, AND THANK YOU FOR YOUR WITNESS TO THIS CONTINUING TRAGEDY.
“THE RESISTANCE TO TERROR IS WHAT MAKES THE WORLD HABITABLE:
THE PROTEST AGAINST VIOLENCE WILL NOT BE FORGOTTEN AND THIS INSISTENT MEMORY RENDERS LIFE POSSIBLE IN COMMUNAL SITUATIONS. AS DESNOS WROTE IN A POEM CALLED EPITAPH,”
You who are living, what have you done with these treasures?
Do you regret the time of my struggle?
Have you raised your crops for a common harvest?
Have you made my town a richer place?
“IF WE HAVE NOT, IF WE DO NOT, WHAT, IN THE THE END HAVE WE BECOME?
AND, IF WE DO NOT, WHAT, IN THE END, SHALL WE BE?”
THANK YOU AND ALL OF YOUR TEAM FOR THIS EXTRAORDINARY EFFORT.
Claro que me imagino lo dificil que ha decer para ti decirle adios a esa gente que has conocido y no sabes que le depara el futuro. Pero gracias por todo lo que estan haciendo, estamos viendo caras oyendo sus voces y como dice Gabriel son personas y no numeros y esperemos que nuestros lideres en el gobierno hagan algo y nosotros sigamos poniendoles “gorro”, para ver si hay una respuesta pronto.
PD. Me gusto lo que te dijo el france :)
It must be really hard to say goodbye to all the beautiful refugees.But remember that we are with you
Pues que barbaridad todo lo que pasa por alla y uno aca en la gloria! que dificil ver todo eso y saber que no puedes hacer mucho pues se necesita muchisimo pero se que todo es bien valorado y me da gusto saber que estas poniendo tu parte para tratar de cambiar todo eso espero y se logre algun dia……
Me imagino lo triste que te habras sentido diciendoles adios a toda esa maravillosa gente que conocistes. Esperemos que de todo ese excelente trabajo que ustedes estan haciendo salga una solucion para poder ayudar ala gente de los campamentos. Cuidate mucho y aqui seguimos en contacto.
Your sharing of your witness to both the beauty and devastation witnessed by the Darfurians is eloquent. Good byes are difficult in regular sitations, here you are saying goodbye and not knowing if you will see them again. As I look at the pictures of the people, I wonder if any of them are ones that we saw and Gabriel met during i-Act II.
i look forward to your continued entries of this life changing journey.
Thank you for being a witness and making it possible for all of us to be witnesses’s. You are all in my prayers for a continued safe journey. Love to you all
Your difficulty with parting sentiments and anxiety over leaving these friends behind is easily understood by all who read your heartfelt words. Every face tugs at your heart. You’re still absorbing the enormity of of their tragic daily existence, and have to part all too soon, without being able to put much of a tangible “fix” on anything. Yet, your courage in making the journey and your kindness in all you’ve shared with them will help sustain their hope for a better future — and that does make a difference. Blessings to all of you, and prayers for continued safe travel.
I forgot to say — Regarding bug picture — Those are some big bugs they got out there! Are those the bugs that are attacking you? Eeeew. Do the people have nets that cover them from the bugs? I imagine not…
Hi Connie, Gabe, Yuen-Lin,
I wasn’t able to write earlier but I did watch the video and read the journals first thing in the morning. I will also miss all those we have met through the videos as they have truly touched our hearts and inspired us and at the same time I look forward to the new faces we will meet in the coming days although I know the same stories will be repeated.
Just curious as to how big the camps are, you mention there are about 20,000 in this one, do you know more or less the square footage of the entire camp? How long would it take to walk from one end of the camp to the other? Do they all interelate or are there different groups within the camps that do not mix much with each other?
By the way Connie, your “botie” does seem to look a bit “liitler”…