Connecting on the Personal Level
“Humanity Before Politics” was one of the first moving i-ACT statements that caught my eye when I looked at a picture of a group of Darfuri boys wearing t-shirts with the slogan. Gabriel later told me how fun it was to watch them play basketball that day the picture was taken. Basketball in a refugee camp in Chad? This wasn’t something I would think of before when I pictured the conflict in Darfur in my mind. i-ACT help me see the conflict in Darfur from a refugees’ perspective. I realized that refugees are not just pictures on newspaper articles, faces lost in a sea of information, they are real mothers, fathers, families, kids with heart-warming smiles, giggles, who laugh, cry, and feel joy just like our children do. They are proud of their cultural, and ethnic, identities. They deserve freedom from persecution and opression. They love, they value education, they are human beings, with human faults, weaknesses, strengths, and self -worth. “They” are us.
When I was first introduced to Darfur Fast for Life by my mother, I simply wanted to try a fast in order to feel, for a few days, how the refugees felt. However, the new perspective that my fasting experience gave me led me to get involved. I blogged about my fast, I reached out and asked how I can get involved, and I heard back from the organizers. It was personal to them too. Gabriel Stauring added me to the core list and took on small tasks I could do from Ottawa in order to support the 8th i-ACT trip to Chad. And now that the team is back, I am building on the friendship and mutual understanding I have built with Garbiel, Katie-Jay, Ian, Eric, Alysha, and the rest of the i-ACT team. With their approval, I will be hosting i-ACT 8 video screenings in the local community, and getting people here in Ottawa involved in solutions to the crisis Darfuri refugees are facing.
One aspect of this local work is that my dear friend and colleague, Dr. Mohammed Baobaid, founder of the Muslim Family Safety Project in London, Ontario, will help me gather information on what can be done to address violence against women and family violence in refugee lives. This is only a start, but each of us can become an important part in helping people affected by the conflict in Darfur re-build their lives. Being involved with i-ACT has helped me re-prioritize my life and commit myself to social-awareness related work, as well as helped me give more time to my son. Seeing life through the eyes of Adam, Bilal, Selma, and many more in the camps has done more for me than I could have ever imagined, now the question is: What can I do for them? I sincerely hope that my continued volunteer work with Interactive Activism will help me answer that question.
Nicole, i-ACT team member