Day 1: March 23


Travel days are the most stressful. Airports in Chad are strange worlds.  They are barely connected to the outside “real” world, and what information does make it through to them gets distorted, no matter how straightforward it seemed before.

We don’t make it easy on ourselves, though.  We bring three times the allowed weight, made up of soccer balls, IMG_2122t-shirts, e-readers (for the refugees), and our equipment.  I send that information to the powers that be, and then it makes it through the funny hall of mirrors into the Chad-airport world.  When we get there, our guaranteed cargo space is something of a myth.  There is reality behind it, but unicorns just don’t exist.

Today, we made it from N’Djamena to Abeche beautifully, with the normal high stress and with all of our luggage.  We were feeling lucky.  Estelle even said, “So far everything is going really well.  No surprises, and nothing to even blog about!”  She spoke too soon.  The Abeche airport will get you.  The people checking us in were laughing, when they saw what we were trying to bring with us (even though somewhere it said we had cargo space reserved).  From across the room, they would say something to each other, look at our multiple bags, and laugh out loud some more.  Well, long story short, they “guaranteed” that our three bags staying behind will make it to Goz Beida tomorrow.  I’m actually pretty certain they will.  I shook hands with the people that kept them.

IMG_2139We boarded the little eight seater airplane and made it to Goz Beida.  It was too late to go to Djabal camp.  But we’re here, and we switch to camp mode.  I get to see all my friends tomorrow.  I’m especially looking forward to seeing Adef and his family.  I always worry.  They have a little boy who is only about two years old.  Under five is the vulnerable period.  Adef and Achta already lost one little girl we had met.  She looked strong and happy at year one, but she did not make it to year two.

I get to see the students.  I want to ask them their thoughts about what is happening around the world, to the north of here — and to the west, in Darfur.  I read today that ZamZam camp inside of Darfur now has over 160,000 people, making it the largest camp in Darfur.  I can’t imagine.  Djabal has under 20,000, and it already feels huge.

Travel days are exhausting.  Hanging out with Rahma, Guisma, and Ali tomorrow should be energizing.


4 replies on “Closer”


Please give hugs from your family in LA to your family in the refugee camps. Tell them we think about them and we pray for them.

Sending all our positive energy your way.

Rachel and Veerman-Stauring Family

What is the solution to the situation in Darfur and the rest of Africa? I am one person, a Federal retiree on a fixed income, so I can’t be of much financial assistance. Yet, at the very moment I am typing this e-mail thousands of people are suffering and even dying.

Hello Nancy.  Thank you for your question, and I think so many of us have felt what you are feeling.  Problems are huge and very overwhelming.  What my team works hard at doing is to put a face on the numbers.  Although the problems are huge, it is individuals just like you and me that suffer.  Part of the solution is there.  Not one of us individually will solve these problems, but if we do our “little” part and then extend it to the people around it, then the power of community will make a difference.  Financial assistance is only a part of what is needed, the other parts are as important.  We must inform our community and we must take even small steps to tell our own leaders that they, the ones we put in position of power to reflect our values, must to the right thing when confronted with issues like Darfur.  We must tell Congress to not cut aid, which is a tiny part of the budget, which means lives on this side. Check out our action page for some ideas, and please stay in touch.

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