I would love to be taking a nap in the plane right now. We are 23,000 feet above the arid, Chadian desert. Finally, a step closer to the refugee camps. A step that was quite exhausting. But it wouldn’t be Chad if it was easy.
After sleeping for about two hours, we abruptly finished packing, and made it to the airport by 6am. Apparently, neither us nor the other six passengers received the memo that check-in was not actually until 8am. Once they opened the kiosk for WFP in the dimly lit, dusty airport, we crossed our fingers for a ‘lil help with the luggage. The first to be left was the big green bag which had about ½ our food and most of our clothing. The next step was pulling more pieces out of the already bare necessities. 70 kg for four people was all we could manage, 10 kg over the allotment. We were saved by a Chadian airport employee in a fluorescent vest, and were able to bring the extra 10.
The view from my seat is so different from last August. Almost no green can be seen. Only dry wadis (river beds) weaving through sand. I am sure that from the ground there is a little ecosystem teeming with life. From up here, it looks so harsh and unforgiving for humans. As we near Abeche, small villages begin to pop up near wadis and roads that lead East.
Once we arrive in Abeche it will a meeting with the new Reporting Officer, Marco, and a few more permits. We will unpack what made it and ration out our food for the days we are in the camp. I am so tired that I hope I get a chance to rest once at our guest house. The week of actions prior to this, although completely necessary to bring attention to the situation in Darfur, and equally important, motivate others to take urgent action, was very tiring. I usually feel pretty rested when we begin this journey, but this time I was already quite exhausted.
In the end, all the hurtles are worth it to be able to sit down and speak to the Darfur refugees. The lucky ones who managed. early on, to cross the border. Each day with them is truly an honor. And every relationship built between them, you and me, could never be diminished by the process of reaching them. They are the ones who have truly sacrificed. Whose past is filled with memories of beautiful and horrific Darfur. Whose present is a less-than-acceptable means of survival. And whose future depends on the intervention of the international community in the Darfur crisis.