I am feeling a bit overwhelmed tonight. I have been trying to think about what to write and how to write it for some hours now. I guess I will just let my fingers type and see what comes of it. Tomorrow, we leave after six amazing days in this refugee camp. Six days that have given me the chance to understand and know more than a dozen children intimately; more intimately than any of my previous visits. Each one has shared with me their story, and shown me their home. As I spent more time with them, especially the girls, their personalities began to replace their initial shy smiles. They loosened up, laughed more, skipped, danced, and cracked jokes in broken English.
I feel so connected to them and it makes me really, really sad to say goodbye to them. I know that Yuen-Lin has created the CommKit, and we registered several today and Bouba will return soon to register more. I will be able to send them messages soon. I know that I will be back in the future to see visit them in person. But it is really hard to say goodbye to such a community.
Today was also sad because I relized that even in a refugee camp, disparity can be so severe. While following one young girl to her house after school, we walked through narrow paths littered with animal feces, plastic, straw, and other garbage rather than the sand that guided us to Adef’s. Her house was so sad. Mostly sticks, with a torn tent, no bed or handing clothes like many of the others. This twelve year old lived just with her grandmother and when not in school, she took care of most all the chores: water, cooking, cleaning, firewood. Firewood? She leaves at 6am and returns around 5pm, carrying all she can.
Many of the girls we worked with were excited to show us their humble dwellings and for us to meet their families. This particular refugee looked upon us with very sad eyes as she pointed to her home, cooking area, and resting place, all within only a few steps.
We moved on quickly to the next little compound, which had an earthen oven, several tukul dwellings, a blackboard, and large, open area to store firewood and dried grass. The disparity affected me greatly. Even though I know fundamentally that this difference exists everywhere. The grandmother looked so fragile, and they literally had one mat, and a few plastic bins for storage. Other than that, nothing. At all.
There is not much sense or cohesion to this blog post and I apologize. After rereading it, I notice that I used the word sad probably too much. But as I said, I am feeling a bit overwhelmed. I haven’t processed the day long enough to write something poetic or more visual.
Just a bit sad.