The day began on the edges of the camp in Zone C where many homes have been swallowed by the sand. Traditionally, the people of Northern Darfur have built mud homes, so upon moving here and because there are not enough tents and sheeting, the refugees here began using the sand, and water left over from washing and cleaning, for building sand walls. Unfortunately, within a year or two, the harsh wind, and rain melt the sides of the structures away as the restless desert takes back its resources.
Children surrounded Mia quickly as she walked the dunes, singing “You are my Sunshine” and “The Ants Going Marching,” which the kids just loved, especially when they got to march alongside Mia while grasping both hands.
On our walk to the school Makka invited us into her home and told us about her sheeting. Her home had three layers of roofing, all tattered. The first was a canvas tent given to her upon her arrival 4 yours ago, she then tried to use the harsh, brittle, itchy blankets they received here in the camps, and finally a plastic piece of sheeting covered the top layer. It, too, was tattered by the harsh environment. It is not that the International NGOs do not want to provide more for their friends in the camps, it is that there is no money for UNHCR, WFP, and other implementing agencies. They want more for our friends, too.
Makka’s story is one very similar to many who live in the camp. Her husband was killed in the village that she fled from. So was her daughter, and her husband. The Janjaweed have striped away her family, all but her four grandkids, who she is left to look after, 2 from her daughters, and 2 more she has taken in and made her own. Her monthly food rations do not stretch for the month, and even then the there are no vegetables or meat. This month will be the first in several they will receive salt.
Makka and several other women gather to see us off. They are very close to the edge of the earth, where the other homes have been swallowed. I wonder how long they will be able to stay here before they have to move and rebuild in another part of the camp, and begin their life over again.
As the afternoon sun blazes high, Mia spends some time with Mohamed, the gentlemen who outlined the four requests by Darfuris for their future. This time he also speaks of the importance of development in Darfur: schools, clinics, centers, and help rebuilding their villages. We visit the clinic briefly and speak to the head midwife in charge, Zahara. Seven days a week she helps deliver at least 6 babies a day.
We conclude our day by playing with the children of Darfur for a few minutes. They love the camera. Flipping over the viewing screen so they can see themselves results in giggling, and hiding behind one of their sisters or brothers. Their smiles will always remain with the whole team.