I started 2011 out with the desire to know more about the personal stories of Darfur. Not because I was a Darfur activist, not because I knew anyone from Darfur or Sudan, not for any reason in particular.
At my local library, I found a copy of The Translator, by Daoud Hari, which I immediately read. I was greatly moved, especially by Hari’s statement near the end of the book that:
“…let me ask you to think of the fact that tonight as I write this, and probably as you read this, people are still being killed in Darfur, and people are still suffering in these camps”
Hari wrote those words in 2008, and I read them in January 2011. This, more than anything, shook me. Three years later, the same words rang true.
Tonight I write to you from roughly 20 miles from the Darfur border – a place I never thought I would go. Yet when the opportunity presented itself, I jumped at the chance to experience this world and hope to contribute my talents to making a difference.
On this unexpected journey, I’ve met dozens of others who have all taken an unexpected journey. While I took mine by choice, their journey was in most cases their only option. Most refugees that walked from Darfur to Eastern Chad did so to save themselves and their families. Those dozens represent the thousands we did not have time to meet. Each and every person living in a refugee camp has taken an unexpected journey. None of them planned their lives to follow this path. None of them planned to be homeless, country-less – perhaps futureless.
Tomorrow we say goodbye to Eastern Chad and head home. Our journey has ended. Has theirs? Is Eastern Chad the end of the road for the thousands of Darfuris who have no good options in front of them? Will collective humanity forget about them, as many of the refugees have been forced to forget about Sudan in order to forge a decent life in a camp?
I know I will never forget. I will continue to act.