I am going to share maybe a little too much about my team mates, and too bad if they don’t like it. I put up with their bad jokes, long-winded story telling, incomprehensible tech talk, strong body odor, and I could go on and on, so they’re going to have to put up with my honesty on this journal entry.
I have somehow been blessed, lucky, or skillful to find myself surrounded by the most amazing, selfless group of people anyone could ever wish for. My i-ACT team is a team! As a group, it flows and adapts and gets the job done, no matter how difficult or extreme the conditions. As individuals, they are each so talented and sincere and true.
I’m now going to get more personal and mention some of them by name, and I hope those that I don’t mention don’t feel offended.
KTJ thinks she’s the funniest person on earth. I at times try to humor her and laugh. Most of the time, I am actually laughing at how not funny her improvised joke, act, or dance is! She’ll tell me, “You see! I am funny!” She is also all dedication and heart. She is so tough, but she is also so soft. It is the perfect combination; she is the prototype for an activist. A few days ago, as she was hugging 71 year old Fatne, a woman who crossed the desert on her bare feet after her village was destroyed and more than 50 members of her immediate community killed, I saw and felt all the emotions every human should feel and express towards other human beings.
I feel peace and a unique sense of clarity by just thinking of my friend and brother Yuen-Lin. When first dreaming of i-ACT–the concept, spirit, and actual project–Yuen-Lin called me from Malaysia. I told him about this crazy idea. I could feel his sense of wonder and excitement at being able to make this happen. He told me, “I don’t work on anything related to what you are telling me, but I will figure out how to do it.” We all call him our Tech-Guru, but he is so much more. He has been out on i-ACT missions twice with me, and the insights I gain from being next to him are invaluable. He strongly believes in peace, but in an active, proactive, peace. He uses his knowledge to allow people to come together across oceans and continents. YL is generous and allows himself to enter in to a relationship of commitment with each individual he meets at the camps. He truly feels responsible for their well-being. YL recently switched jobs, and he actually took a pay-cut in this voluntary switch. He did this because the new job would give him new tools and knowledge that would benefit our mission. That’s my brother YL.
My man Eric is everything. I felt such a sense of security with him on this i-ACT mission. He knows computers and websites and software and video editing. He is tough, in shape, and fearless enough to race motorcycles. He also can go without sleeping, when he feels he needs to get a job done. Our production as a team has probably doubled since E joined the team. As everyone else besides KTJ and I, E has a full-time job, so he took unpaid vacation to be with us on this trip. E is like a peace special-ops soldier. He is focused and ready for anything that comes. Right before going to camp one day, he ran and puked in the compound bathroom–probably something that he ate or drank. He ran back to the Land Cruiser and jumped in. “I’m good.” He then spent the next 5 hours in 110 degree heat working his ass off at the refugee camp.
To see the camps, the people, and the crisis through the eyes of Ian has been energizing. Ian comes from the movie business and has pop-references for just about any situation we find ourselves in. He also has great insight on how to bring two apparently opposite worlds together, the pop and the refugee. Another talent is his knack at finding the right theme song of the day on his iphone, be it Michael’s Man in the Mirror (weird when we heard he had died, two days after our theme song was played) or songs by anyone from U2 to JayZ. With IH, we laughed and laughed and laughed. And laughing is very much needed out here. IH is so talented with the camera and with his video editing. He can tell a story, and he can package a message that will get through. He was perfect for this mission. When he first asked me if we needed him on this trip, I told that for sure we could use him, but we did not have the budget for an extra person. IH, in between jobs and far from independently wealthy, immediately said, “Don’t worry about that. I’ll get myself over there.” And he did. Look at his video work, and you will see half of why he has been great to have out here. The other half is the humanity and friendship that he adds to the team and to our relationship with the refugees.
The other members of our team: Carolyn, Cory, Stacey, Alysha, Rachel, Kathleen, Willow, Jeremiah, Nicole, Cristina, Katie, Amanda, Jennifer, and Niny. I hope I’m not missing anyone. All of them, volunteers. Some jump in and out of action, but everyone believes in the i-ACT mission–putting a face on the numbers.
I am proud to be a part of this group. Sorry for talking so much about us, but I want others to see that we’re not special at all. We just decided to that we would act, and we see obstacles as opportunities to be creative…and even have fun.