I feel like I have said this before. I feel like I have said the same thing many times, in my writings about Darfur–what has happened and is happening over there, and what needs to be done over here.
I went from being a family counselor, advising abused children and their families here in Southern California, to listening to children and families that had lost everything in Darfur. I went from advocating for families at schools and community organizations to advocating for a population in danger at the national and international level. Strangely, although it was a quick transition, it felt like a natural, organic switch.
It has been six years now since I began my advocacy work and visiting the refugee camps, but the issues continue to remain the same. I keep hearing that what is happening in Darfur is no longer genocide. In fact, even international officials have declared, “the war is over.” Hey, over 3,400 Darfuri villages have been destroyed! That same level of destruction will never return. The villages are no longer there to be destroyed! Millions of people continue to live off of hand-outs, and more millions more continue to be in danger of violence, hunger, disease, and rape. Genocide is not just the act of killing at any specific point in time. Genocide is what is lost and will never be regained. Genocide stays with people over generations. In Darfur, the war is far from over, and–when it is over–genocide will remain.
We have been organizing video from our many trips, a much needed task we had avoided. I’ve had a chance to look at some of our old footage from our first visit to the camps, back in 2005. I spent more than a month out there and we put up 21 straight days of i-ACT–webcasting video, writing journals, and responding to questions.
I just looked at a clip from that trip, which we filmed almost at the half-point, and it has Chris interviewing me, having me reflect about the days before. It all sounds so familiar. Not because I said it back then, but because I have said many of those same things ever since. So much remains the same, although I was a few pounds lighter in that clip!
I also just found a note my daughter, Mimi, wrote for me before leaving. She was nine years old and this is what she wrote:
“How I really feel that my dad is going to Africa is many ways. But one of the ways I feel inside is happiness. I feel happy because I love this work that he’s doing and I never thought this work would get this far. I hope you good luck in your trip to Africa.” Mimi November 11, 2005
Mimi has repeated those words, in different ways, for the seven trips I’ve taken since.
We are now starting to prepare for our ninth trip to the camps. Many things remain the same, but the tragedy is that the camps will still be there but now with thousands of more people, representing many more villages destroyed and many more lives lost. I hope you bear with me, if I repeat myself at times once again.