It feels a little strange to say that I have come here five times now in less than two years. Even though my gut told me differently, my mind and heart truly wanted to believe that by my fifth trip, we would be walking across the border, back to Darfur, watching our friends return home to their land, their history, their culture.
Instead, here we are. Fourteen team members have been on i-ACT trips. Countless hours of footage, thousands of photos, dozens of testimonies written and passed on. Yet, we are still here. You can see that subtle changes in Abeche and at UNHCR compounds from temporary to more permanent. In past i-ACTs we have seen this shift in refugee life also – more brick and straw homes that resemble what they might have lived in back home – tents and sheeting are only part of the small compounds that they call home.
Time and again I come back to feeling like we have failed. I am fully included in this we. Have I lost faith in the fundamental belief that if only more people knew, the tipping point would come? I know I have done more than others, but perhaps I have not done enough. Perhaps we can do more. No perhaps, I know we can.
Each of us is part of our own community. Our participation in this community provides us with leverage to raise topics, ideas, actions, gathering opportunities. I challenge you to use this i-ACT and your personal leverage to step outside your regular box of activism and engage your community. It may be hard. Many might ask, Why Darfur? Why now? I have my own problems, why should I care?
I don’t have all the answers but I do believe that if we allow the most heinous of crimes – that is to allow people to be killed just because of who they are, where they were born, or what culture they are a part of – then none of our lives can truly be fulfilled. This is because we have allowed part of ourselves to be shut off from humanity.
Many more excuses for inaction include lines like, What do you want the US to do – send in troops? How can we help with Iraq, Afghanistan, and our military past? We can’t have an effect on African issues. I think these are excuses for people to look away instead of allowing humanity to reach into their heart and empower their lives.
To be truly alive is to live in a world where all of humanity, what ever the differences, is allowed to live in peace, at home. This is what I wish for. And you can be part of this. Please, be part of this. And bring your commumunity along.