Here are my long overdue responses to your comments :) Thank you so much for your support, encouragement, ideas and insights.
Day 2: Swee Ting
Day 4: Gina and Brandon, Teresa, Meron, Lisa, Jia-Li
Day 5: Mary Ann, Lisa, Pam, Jia-Li
Day 6: Mary Ann and Lisa
Day 7: Lisa
Day 8: Lisa,
Day 10: Teresa and Mary Ann
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.
Dear Gina and Brandon:
Thank you for your support. I agree about acting in all known ways and about timing. At the grassroots, I feel it is important that our actions are in sync with events transpiring at the international level. That is, we should express support for the right efforts, and hold the appropriate parties accountable for their plans and promises. We must continue to find more agile and effective ways to do this. The grassroots is the conscience.
I’m so sorry, it was actually my fault that you didn’t see my journal entries. I was swamped with tech work for a while and fell behind in posting (I take a long time to write.) I then tried to catch up, which is why the entries started to appear for earlier days. Thank you for your support. I am fortunate to be a part of this team, which feels so much like family, and which has so much to offer.
Thank you for your unending support. It is indeed frustrating. Hopefully we can channel our frustration towards finding ways to help which are both concrete and scalable. We have some ideas to work on in the coming months, that will add a humanitarian support angle to the i-ACT relationship. Totally agree about making full use of the stories we have captured; there is a lot more we can do. Looking forward to working with you and everyone else upon returning.
Thank you for your support :)
Don’t be sorry :) I have been late posting as well, and it always brightens my day to hear from you. Hope you could channel the negative emotions into positive thoughts and actions :)
Being around the people here has shown me a lot about how to live. One comes to understand that there is so much we don’t know, and so much to learn from our brothers and sisters everywhere. That there is priceless value to the entire human race in something as seemingly simple as the attitude that a group of people have towards life. I think it’s the same with indigenous music, with traditional medicine, with ancient languages… things that are often trampled because prevailing notions of value (one barrel of oil for $70, one piece of lumber for $50) are not sophisticated enough to include them.
I think that every society, knowingly or unknowingly through its collective actions, is always trying to progress. Each has progressed further in different areas. Each deserves to continue its way of life, if for nothing else, because the products of its “research and development” are gems to all of humanity. We instinctively feel that each way of life is valuable; I think this is at least in part why.
About the students who cried when their handphones were confiscated, hope they will learn more about the world and through that gain better perspective.
I miss you too :) Take care of yourself and everyone back home ok?
Yes, it’s unfortunate that with all the information available, there can still be doubt.
Excellent thoughts and ideas. To answer your first question, we keep everything we record, stills and videos. We have started thinking about how to make best use of it. One of the ideas is to make from all the material we have a DVD containing a 5-minute clip, which would be targeted for mass distribution and consumption by people with no prior exposure to Darfur. Another is to make clips based on particular themes, and put those at public locations like YouTube. I like very much your idea about compiling the children’s drawings, and getting some into the media. I’m sure you have other great ideas: we should really get together soon to brainstorm and divide the work.
Sorry you missed my entry, it was actually my fault for posting it late. Thanks so much for looking back at previous days! Yes, what Lisa pointed out is one of the most important avenues to work on in the coming weeks and months. Hope we can all put our heads and hands together on it!
Ya, it’s unfortunate. I think there are always reasons though, why people have a certain belief or disbelief. A lot of times the reasons have little to do with the issue at hand, and often it’s hard to fault the person. The good thing about the content we’ve collected is that it’s really quite hard to argue with, just because it’s neither abstract nor a web of reasoning, but just simple statements spoken by regular people, many of them children. Watching the videos, one can literally look the speaker in the face. One, two people may be good actors, but when you start having the same stories told by tens of people across camps, across villages, the room for doubt becomes very very slim indeed.
The makeshift theater was really quite an experience :)
I love the thought of “sleeping cats and sunlit faces” :) Mansur, the boy we met, had very sad drawings on his wall, but he had also drawn some happy scenes — animals roaming, a city scene with people and cars. In i-ACT 2005 one of the aid workers interviewed said that all the children who came in first drew scenes of violence, but after some time started drawing happier scenes.
Miss you too my dear :)
I totally agree that children are the future, and even the present in many ways. They have so much to offer. I think the positiveness of the people of Darfur can serve as a source of inspiration and strength for those of us working on their behalf. If we channel our own positiveness to productive avenues, and generate enough in the people around us, it will grow to a stage where major tangible effects will be observed. The few will inevitably have to bow to the wishes of the many, one way or another. We must keep working knowing that even if peace is not achieved tomorrow, it may be achieved one, two, five years sooner than otherwise.
I share your wish to help them in a very concrete way. All the more because, as you pointed out, they are so determined and have made much progress even with such limited resources. My impression is that the aid agency most involved with education in the camps is UNICEF. I think there are both large needs and relatively smaller needs we can help with. Logistics and conditions are tough here, so I think it comes down to choosing a camp where we have a good connection both with the community and with the NGO(s) in charge. Thankfully, we have both of these in one of the camps. Hopefully we can start working there, and later with the benefit of experience and better connections, expand to include other camps as well.
One large need we found is secondary education – there were no secondary schools in any of the camps we visited. An idea came up to spearhead the building of a secondary school at the camp I mentioned above. The school would be supported by i-ACTivists, both financially and in other ways. We would maintain continuous personal connections between the school community and the i-ACTivists that support it.
Supplies are needed as well, however the impression I got was that the degree of need in that respect varies across camps. Definitely many would benefit from a more detailed needs assessment. Such information may already be available from the NGOs. We can probably work on this angle concurrently with the school project.
Looking forward to working together!
Thank you, but all credit for the video editing goes to Gabriel. I do some of the camera work when we’re out in the camps, but he is the one who sits five-six hours straight when we return: downloading the video, watching all the clips, selecting what to use, thinking of how to piece together a good story, actually putting the pieces together, doing audio work. It’s a very painstaking task, but I think the results are well worth it!
In the past, I had read and seen projects where the kids did the photo-taking and video-recording, but actually seeing it first-hand was just great. Kids have so much to offer! I think I speak for the team in saying that we’re very excited to continue working with you as well. Thanks for all your well wishes; we have been getting some rest here in N’djamena and feel quite recharged. Peace be upon you!
So very sorry about the journal entries, that you thought it was your fault when it was actually mine! Thank you for your kind words and encouragement.
Thank you for your kind words and support throughout our trip. I also hope to meet you one day, and to continue working together. I think we are each doing our part, and just as family extends well beyond the immediate relatives, the i-ACT team extends well beyond the few of us. It includes you and everyone else who believes in family and friendship, has come to this issue out of basic empathy, and is taking action sincerely and in earnest.