“Bonjour” Rene calls from kitchen as I wonder in for my morning café. This might be the last of the café until we reach N’Djamena. I savor the last sips of it while I pack my bags, well, I pack half a bag of my personal belongings and repack our three backpacks and one and a half roller bags of tech equipment. We make our final walk on the sandy road to the main office, nobody but security is around, they have all gone to the air strip to see off and receive those from the earlier flight. We sit for a moment, with nothing to do. I’ve almost forgotten that feeling – of just sitting, but it’s not for long as Hala and the vehicles arrive to take us.
It feels strange to be leaving Guereda and the refugees of Kounoungo and Mile. I will always hold a special place in my heart for Fatne, Asha (all three of them!), Anima, Yakoub, Adam, Raya, Mohamed, Saleh, Darsalam, and Aziza to name a few. Their stories and expressions are forever part of me, I am changed after meeting them. I am not the same as when I arrived last week.
On the flight to Abeche, I can see the road to Kounoungo. I recognize the wadi that the IMC vehicle got stuck in and the watering hole where I saw a villager slowly hopping left to right, his hands holding up the bottoms of his pants, as if to dance a greeting for the morning sun. And finally my eyes pass over Kounoungo. It looks so much bigger than when I was in Fatne’s home speaking with her family and following her granddaughter, Anima, around school.
We land in Abeche, meet up with Yousouf, weigh our bags and get on the same plane but now to Goz Beida, a new village and a new camp for i-ACT. The ride is smooth and I manage to write a little more.
There just isn’t enough time to know them… I am eager to sit and talk with more people to understand their daily lives better. Wish I could stay longer – moving between camps to facilitate more relationships. I wonder if this will become a reality in the months to come.
We land in Goz Beida and a new journey begins. We have our own car and translator, which means we get to make our own schedule. But the faces of the last four days, the refugees and the community that surrounds and supports them are embedded in my mind forever.