We always ask the people we meet what they miss about Darfur. The refugees have given a diversity of answers that paint a beautiful picture of a calm and peaceful life of agrarians and villagers. They speak about their fields, the herds that the boys watched over during the day, and the marketplace where they traded what they grew. Many remember growing Millet or corn, tomatoes, okra, and watermelon.
This year Darfuris are able to grow a bit of these things outside the refugee camp. We have attempted to visit our friends Achta and Adef several times, but both are away at gardens. Achta leaves each morning to work a field that is close to the camp, taking Gabril, Guisma, and Abdelmouni with her, while Adef travels very far and won’t be back for a while.
When we asked what they miss most about Darfur, the adults and older teenagers give the same answer mangoes (reason #22) and guavas (reason #23). They don’t have fruit trees here and up until this year I hadn’t seen any watermelon. Now it grows on their roofs and fences! From what they describe, Darfuris had both fields near their homes, and fruit trees littered through the villages. They were sustainable and what they did not use, they traded or sold in the market.
Unfortunately, one answer we are getting more and more often is that they don’t remember what Darfur was like. This is mostly from teenagers who fled when they were seven, eight, or even ten. Their memories of Darfur, after seven long years of living in a camp, are lost (reason #24).
The camp is full of children under 10 who are too young to remember more than being tied to their mothers backs during the journey to Chad. What will their life be like in the future? Will they only learn to farm far from their homeland or will they have a chance to return and learn the traditional ways to survive sustainably in this harsh environment? For the sake of humanity, I hope its the latter.
4 replies on “Mangos (Reasons #22), Guavas (#23), and Lost Memories of Home (#24)”
KTJ and All,
Thank you for this report on food for our friends in the camps, and the tragic fact many no longer can remember about life in Darfur. We will use this video and personal stories to help our students understand life in the refugee camps, where people have lived so long. Our Children’s Rights Camp and the legacy Darfur tent have now traveled to three of our 9 high school campuses. After the winter vacation, we will return to plan camps for 8 or 9 more locations here in Los Angeles.
We think of you always as we work with the Camp Darfur tents and strive to educate about children’s rights and Darfur!
Always with hope,
Great to hear from you and hear that the Children’s Rights Camp and the legacy Darfur tent have been successful. From this trip I will select a few good letters and poems from the children of Darfur to include in the legacy tent for the 2011 Rights Camp!
Hello from Isaac!
Watched the live broadcast yesterday. It’s really powerful, live and real time, to see everyone over there. A real success. In reading today’s post, I’m wondering where the water comes from for watermelons and other farming? And as for the villages, the homes of the people back in Darfur, what’s happening with those currently? Are they sitting vacant and burned? How far away are they?
Glad that you were able to catch the live webcast!
The water for farming is all seasonal, and this year there was a lot of rain. The rains ended 3-4 weeks ago and people are just now finishing the harvest. This is the first time we have seen such greenery in the camps. In previous years there hasn’t been enough to replenish the water table. The water for the camp is a combination of the local water table (they drill for water before setting up the camps), and water being trucked in. There is a great environmental representative for Chad, based in N;Djamena who we have seen twice now. We have him on video speaking about the environmental concerns and solutions. We will post this one when we get back!
Most of the villages have been burnt to the ground and are deserted. We are not entirely sure about how far their villagers are from here. When we ask them how far we are from the border we get a range from100 to 200 kilometers. Then Darfur itself is the size of Texas. So depending on where they are from inside Darfur, their journey has been long.