Some experiences have become a common feature over the past few days visiting the camps. One is being accompanied by a lively entourage of kids wherever we go. The group starts in the morning, as we get down from our car. It grows and subsides throughout the day, but there are some who stay the whole time. As we walk, kids come up spontaneously to hold my hand, and we walk hand-in-hand for some time. Some ask my name. They catch my name easily and pronounce it very well. Occasionally – usually after I put down the camcorder for a moment – they point to themselves asking me to take a picture. Many of the boys put on a proud, serious face when being photographed. After taking their picture, often I show them the image. They always like this a lot. When we leave for the day, there is a lot of waving, shaking hands, holding hands, saying good-bye. So many of the kids come to shake and hold my hand as we are leaving that I feel very touched, and at the same time responsible for them. The entourage of kids seems a metaphor: the kids being the people of Darfur, and we being those who have the power to bring them safely home. Many of the Darfuris we have spoken to don’t understand why they have been targeted, and rightly so. Many have asked that the international community help them. Leaders of the world: please be very honest with yourselves. You can do a lot better.
The kids at the camp we returned to today were especially enthusiastic about picture-taking and cameras. The first time we visited on Day 3, I flipped the camcorder screen around so the kids could see themselves as I was recording them. I did that again today, and also showed them the stills I took of them. At some point I figured , what if I let them do the shooting. They’d really enjoy it, we’d get some interesting footage, and I get to take a breather! So I handed the camcorder to a boy (sorry, I forget his name ). Everyone was excited and found it quite funny. Anyway, our man needed very little instruction henceforth. We walked together, one big group of us, him and me at the front, him recording. He showed us his tent, his family, the other kids. You’ll see some of his footage (and some of him) in today’s video. Later I passed the camera to another boy, then another, then a few more. It was fun seeing them go at it, and nice to feel on their side rather than like an outsider documenting them. They took their job very seriously, and I was pleasantly surprised that almost everyone respected who’s turn it was. Even those that got a bit over-excited were OK when I told them they could go in 2 minutes, showing them the time on my watch.
It’s hard not to be affected by the kids. They represent so much of what is worth saving in the world.