We wake early to head out to the camps, and with the breeze and a little cloud cover the day is much cooler than yesterday. We head straight for the school that we found yesterday, ready to meet students and teachers, and organize a few sports games. The teachers are eager to speak with us, not only about the school, but also about their lives and the politics of Darfur. One man was in Khartoum when the JEM rebels attacked earlier this year, and for the subsequent crackdown on Darfuris and their families. He was able to make it back across the border.
The teachers choose 10 girls and 10 boys for us to work with. We pass out “HUMANITY before Politics” and “Run for Darfur” t-shirts for them to wear. At first, the girls are ridiculed by the other students, especially the boys. But soon they get their moment to shine and smile. We try to start with the girls games because here they don’t get the chance to be first, but in the end, the boys game of basketball starts.
Instead, we pass out pictures to the girls drawn by students at Temple Micah in Washington DC. They proudly hold these pictures high above their heads as they walk through the basketball spectators to their field. They line up and begin to sing. The only words I understand are Salaam, Darfur, Salaam, Darfur. Serious glances towards their schoolmates are intermixed with short giggles.
Bouba lines them up, two by two, and the races begin. One set after another, they dash from one end of the soccer field to the other. As each one reaches the finish line, a smile spreads and remains on their delicate faces. The attention, for once, is on them. They are happy. Ever since we reached this camp, I have seen the suffering of women. They carry the water, they build the homes and schools, they watch the children, and they cook when there is food. Today, these young women rested from their everyday lives, and laughed. It is as if something buried inside them came to life. And for a moment that part of the soul took over their reality.
How much we underestimate the power of attention and love. So often we take these for granted and assume that every person receives some form of affection. These children deserve more than this.
I do not accept that this is their life’s end.
I do not accept that those who suffer the most in these camps are the women.
It needs to stop. And they cannot do it alone, they need our help.
Please help the women and children of Darfur.