Today was our last day in Camp Djabal. I already miss them all and it has only been hours. I don’t know when I will be able to come back to Camp Djabal. I fear it will be longer than I want, and that the conditions of the camp will be worse. It makes me sad to think that some may not even make it until our team returns.
In the camp this morning, the sun beat down on the sand, and our backs as we weaved through the straw made alleyways searching for Adef and Achta. We asked one tall man, who smiled, pointed and began to walk beside us.
We soon found our family. I feel very close to Adef and Achta. For about an hour we exchanged with gestures before a translator came. Without words, Achta knew what I was trying to tell the children and she helped direct them. I distributed pens and paper for the children, and a book for their family. Abdelmouni is becoming a little man, still serious, but when he laughs it is the loud giggle of his sister and brothers. I feel so close to them, as if they are part of my own family. In many ways, they are.
They don’t ask for much. Many people I know would be asking for so much if they were in a situation that the refugees, or even IDPs from Chad, were in. I think because we have grown up in such a rich country there is a sense of entitlement to having things, to having everything. Not so much here. What they want is education, justice, and peace. Justice so that Peace will come and Education so they can help lead their country.
These are simple concepts that will require effort on the part of the international community. Skilled mediators, Financial Support. Disarmament. Arrest warrants acted on. Educational support through trainings, supplies, and infrastructure. These are things we in America take for granted most of the time. These are things that will help ensure that little Abdelmouni, Guisma, Bashir and Beshar grow up having some chance at leading fulfilling lives. The kind of life we expect to be handed to us.
Maybe I am being to harsh on the country I grew up in. I may be acting on pure emotional response to the serious eyes of a three year old and a laugh of a young girl that used to roar and now rarely giggles. And I know that there are people throughout the world who are suffering, like those who have been injured or killed fighting for democracy in Iran. I know that Darfur and Chad are not the only places where people are seeking peace, justice, education and participation in the leadership of their people.
I just know personally that if I don’t work harder to bring peace and justice to Darfur and all of Sudan that my friends here will not go home. They will not have the opportunity to live fulfilling lives. They will not have choices. They will slowly begin to lose their culture as more generations grow up in camps outside of their homeland. Their entire world has already changed, and they adjusted as much as we can ask someone to adjust. In the end, they want to go home.
Please be part of allowing peace, justice, education, and CHOICE back into their lives.