We haven’t heard from our fixer, and it’s about 3pm. UNHCR hasn’t called back and we have a new cell phone number so we are confined to our room, until someone calls with information about our permits. I’m nervous that we might get stuck in N’Djamena. Swedish European Union forces and small Chadian children share the pool below while I gaze up to the sky, where only months ago we were filming black smoke billowing from the presidential palace. It feels like today’s heat has reached well into the 90’s, Abeche is expected to reach 103 degrees while we are there.
The familiar short buzz of the phone, a friend of our fixer has arrived and so has relief! All four of us head to the lobby to hand over our passports for the final stop at immigration; it feels like a strong team already. One last stamp, and we are set; my worries drop away. We are out of here, In Shallah, tomorrow morning, and on to Abeche for one night, then to see our friends in Kounoungo and Mile. They say that Adam might have been moved; I hope not. To move from camp to camp in a hostile environment, after having been displaced several times before, for the sake of his children – beautiful Raya, Nima, Abdulakim and the two others – I hope that they have found a little stability and are learning in Adam’s n ew library.
Still in the lobby, I struggle in French… baggage from 107… from February…? The beautiful, young front desk agent remembers something and moves her hands to a circle, “cd?” They have it! She opens the door to the back room and lets us look through the stored luggage – nope, nope… oh nope. We shrug our shoulders and begin to walk out. At the last minute, she hands us a stack of blank cds and dvds. We laugh, this is what they kept for us! We walk around the hotel identifying signs of the attack: patched up walls, the bullet hole that hit a foot above our head, doors with shrapnel marks.
But all I can really think about is holding the hand of one of friends, squeezing it and assuring them, that even after five years, we are still fighting, we are still standing with them everyday demanding change. With all the missions that have been cancelled since February, I wonder if they feel even more forgotten. I KNOW they still HOPE to go home, and I KNOW it is us who have failed to provide enough PROTECTION for them to do so. How would I continue after five years of broken promises and inaction? Would I still be able to hope?
Please, let’s make this our last i-ACT in Chad before we return with our friends to their villages in Darfur. Please take action everyday, share their stories, together we have a stronger voice, and our friends are depending on that voice.
Hopeful from N’Djamena, KTJ