i-ACT 10: March 2011

First Steps

Busy N’Djamena day for the team. Busy and good. The streets of this capital city look so different from earlier IMG_2105trips. On my first trip in 2005, NDJ had somewhat of a feeling of the wild wild west, African style. Very few streets were paved, and you saw armed men everywhere. It was also dark at night. Driving from the airport to the hotel was an eerie ride through blinding shadows, with gun totting figures appearing suddenly on the side of the road, illuminated by the taxi’s headlamps. Streets are now, for the most part, paved, and there are bright lamps in all major streets. It’s beginning to feel more like a capital city, kinda.

Camouflage clothing is still very in. I’m not sure if they’re all soldiers, but I guess most are. There are still way too many guns out there, AK47s I’m, again, guessing. Not too many people smile, unless you meet them one-on-one, when they become personable and even friendly.

To navigate the travel and video permits system here, you need friends. UNHCR has been more than that. They worked our permits and transportation in record time. It even feels strange to be leaving NDJ so fast, but I’m happy to be flying out tomorrow morning. Delphine, at UNHCR, coordinated everything, with Carole doing a lot of the leg work. Red tape is never fun.

What is fun is traveling with bright and entertaining teammates. Laughing is good in so many ways during these expeditions. I would not be on my 10th, if it wasn’t for being able to stay positive, at least at times, and laughing as much as IMG_2113possible, given where we go and the stories we hear.

Tomorrow, we get up early to get to the airport a little after 6 A.M. We then get in a small plane to Abeche and there, hopefully, soon after on a smaller plane that takes us to Goz Beida (GZB). Camp Djabal is only a ten minute ride from GZB.

I already miss my family back home, but I’m looking forward to seeing my friends at Djabal.

Peace, G

2 replies on “First Steps”

Hi! It’s great to find your first post, and know you’re all safely proceeding to the camps. While you find some things have improved along the way, I’m sure there will be much that is unchanged or even worse than on your prior visits. May your reunions with old friends be happy and fulfilling, and your exchanges be productive. Your team’s work continues to instill hope and open doors for the future of the Darfuris. I’m sure the Sudanese community locally resettled, here, will be following your travels with much interest.


San Antonio, TX

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