I did not get around to writing a journal for Day 2, so I’ll include some thoughts from yesterday in this one for Day 3. I think that the word that comes up the most yesterday from all of our team is “frustration” in all its different forms. I feel a lot better today.
There were multiple reasons for the frustration, and for me there was an intense headache that added to the theme of the day. The time difference and unavailability of sugar free Red Bull really does a job on me. The headache gets really bad in the afternoon, which is the morning back home, and it gets worse as the night falls. Here, I “force” myself to drink regular cola drinks, since there are no diets, but I drink a lot less than usual. I cannot take a caffeine pill at night because then I would not sleep even the few hours that I do. So, this very trivial caffeine issue is one that I’m dealing with out here.
The bigger frustration was not being able to get out of the capital. It is the one obstacle that I dread the most, since our mission is to be with the refugees, so we can help get their voices out. We are only here for a very limited time period, so any days that we cannot be in the camps feels a little like those dreams where you can only move in slow motion when you want to run.
In general, I am a very patient person, and I try to make the most of bad situations. My personal disposition makes Chad not as bad of an experience as it could be. That said, I do feel pressure and responsibility to make the most of the opportunity to be out here and be witness to the results of the brutalities occurring in Darfur. This has an effect on me, combined with the caffeine deficiency, and I get a little more serious and quiet and try to find ways to get moving.
It has helped so much to have other team members that are positive and have a good sense of humor. Today, we showed the video from February, when the hotel is attacked, to Le Meridien staff. Abakar, one of the wonderful staff that stayed with us and kept taking care of us, even as bullets flew, watched with other staff, and they all laughed. Katie-Jay and I also laughed. It is not because we are belittling what happened, on the contrary. A sense of humor is such a great defense mechanism for our sanity. In a place where things rarely go as planed, laughing is the best therapy.
Colin and Scott have been great company. I feel bad that they have only been in this capital. They stay positive, and they laugh with us. Tomorrow they get in a little plane and fly east over the Chadian desert. Then, the real work begins.
Our schedules become hectic and demanding. We wake up early and head out to the camp. We spend hours with the people. If lucky, we get to play some football with the kids. We then drive back to the compound and begin downloading pictures and video, writing journals and responding to comments, and editing the many hours of interviews and stories from the camp. This usually goes in to the middle of the night, when we begin uploading the video, shooting it up to a satellite and then to some virtual place, where our team back home grabs it and posts it at our site.
The next morning we go again.
I wish the horrors of Darfur did not exist and I did not have to be out here. It does exist, so I feel blessed at having the opportunity to be acting and standing, representing all of you, with the victims.