Since arriving in Goz Beida, the last two days have been a blur, more so than the five days of travel to get here. My overwhelming impression is that for a group of people that have been displaced from their homes and forced to live in a refugee camp, the residents of Camp Djabal still have a trust and openness I rarely find. Without fail, every single person smiles back when I acknowledge them. They let me in. I hold a grudge over things and lose trust in humanity for things so small, and here I’m meeting a group that has every reason not to see another human being without thinking there’s a large risk, yet they continue to show love like nothing has happened. I need to learn that trick.
Of course, it’s not a trick. It’s a way of life.
Over the blur of images from the last two days, I have images of endless smiles and the sound of continuing laughter. The kid’s are obsessed with the blonde hair on my arms, and they are constantly running their hands along to make sure it’s real. I had expected, as said in my previous entry, that white people entering the camps with video cameras was a common site, but every time I show anyone their own image on the video, it’s like magic. They are so overjoyed to see their faces, that one might suspect Darfurians are narcissists, but it’s obviously not that. I believe they are just pleased to be acknowledged, even if it’s by an inanimate object like a digital video camera. And of course, I like anyone who thinks I’m funny. They’re either laughing at me or with me, but I don’t care.
One clear preconceive notion that has been wiped immediately away is that this is not a group that needs pity. They are not helpless. Not even close. Neither I, nor those westerners that have walked here before me are any types of saviors to be put on a pedestal. We all merge into the cacophony of support that any human would need being in a refugee camp, but are mostly witnesses to an undeniable force of endurance and adaptability. The 17,000 people in this camp are not waiting around for the western world to save them…there is no moss growing on these rolling stones. They are hard at work, educating themselves, creating homes out of the environment, and keeping the family unit in tact, all while advocating to anyone that will listen that they want one simple thing….to go home.