Today I parted ways with the rest of the i-ACT team. They went on to Camp Kounoungo via Guereda, and I continued my journey home via N’Djamena. I am a little sad that the team has parted ways, and lot sad that my time with Rahma, Ali, Abdulhaziz, Suliman, Adef, Achta, little serious-man Abdelmouni, Guisma, Hassan and Hissein, baby Gabrile, baby Obama, and the countless others of Camp Djabal has come to an end. But I am also relieved and thrilled that I am returning to my home and to my loved ones, and questioning why I get to return to a safe peaceful home where my loved ones are living well, but the new friends that I part ways with are denied the same.
I have been thinking a lot about what I have experienced on this trip, and how my understanding of the situation, motivation, and commitment have been changed. I feel like I haven’t spent nearly enough time here and haven’t come away with as deep of an understanding as perhaps I expected I would. As time passes, and when I have space to process everything, I think things will become more clear.
I am also thinking about what impacted me the most on this trip. I have watched most of the prior i-ACT videos, so in a sense, many of the conversations we had were not new to me. Being there face to face with Adef and his family, or with a group of the camp elders obviously leaves a deeper impression. But I feel like the previous i-ACT videos have been fairly effective at coming close to capturing the essence of these interactions. So it wasn’t the words that impacted me the most, it was the silent moments, the one on one interactions with the children where no words were spoken. This is something that can never be captured on video or in any other way no matter how advanced your technology is. I wish it was possible, but it’s not, and that’s what makes it so special and meaningful. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to experience many of these intimate brief moments of shared humanity.