During this flight I have been trying to imagine what it will be like for us in the camps and I’m coming up blank. I feel like we are about to be dropped into the pages of a history book… into a section that should have never been started, a section that is running on and on with no end in sight. I am thinking about meeting the children in the camps that despite all they have been through still manage to hold onto their their faith that people like you and me have not forgotten about them, and that we are doing all we can to help change things so that they can grow up and pursue their dreams like all children should be allowed to. I am thinking about meeting the women that have suffered systematic rapes intended to dehumanize them, strip them of their dignity, and tear families and communities apart. I know that stories of these rapes and attacks will not be openly volunteered because of the great stigma that comes with them. Perhaps a few women will talk of them indirectly. I am thinking about the notable absence of men and older boys in the camps. What has happened to them? I am scared of what this experience will be like, but I feel like whatever challenges and struggles I might encounter, they are nothing compared to what the people of Darfur have gone through. I am wondering if I’ll be able to take it all in or if I’ll be so busy with tech work that my mind will be in analytical problem-solver mode during the day. I am thinking about my own family and friends and wondering if they were born into the situation facing the people of Darfur, would others care about their situation and be trying to help.
I am thinking about the fact that this is Gabriel’s 8th trip to the region in 4 years. I hope that there won’t be a need for 8 more trips of this kind of work. I hope that on future trips we will be bringing back stories of families returning to their villages, rebuilding them in peace, and the children of Darfur attending schools and chasing their dreams without fear of the next time Antonov planes will drop bombs on their village or refugee camp. Many thoughts running through my head.