“We’re looking for a teacher named Adam,” I asked the first man we saw, when we arrived at a refugee camp with a funny name, Kounoungou, back in 2008. “Adam” is a very common name with Darfuris, and in a camp with more than 20,000 people, there was probably hundreds, maybe even thousands of Adams, but hopefully only a few teachers.
“Adam. Teacher?” I repeated, realizing that the refugee man did not speak much English. The man looked puzzled, “Adam?” He then pointed to a hill off in the distance and told us, we thought, to walk up the hill and make a left at the tree. That’s how we first found Adam.
Adam’s plea to the American people, “Do not forget us,” was not heard. Darfur disappeared from the news, and the once large crowds of activists working to “save Darfur” dwindled. It’s arrogant to think that I could have had “game changing” impact on the chaotic man-made crisis in Darfur. I’m not that arrogant, but I still feel guilty about failing Adam.
After that first day, I knew deep in my heart that Adam was a friend for life. When he named his new baby twins after Katie-Jay and I, I knew the feeling was mutual. Last year, he took his family back to Darfur, as violence escalated and the world continued to forget. He said he could not wait any longer and did not want his children to continue living in the limbo of refugee camp life.
Adam now stays in touch through text messages. His last message to me is:
“Evil should not defeat justice. Those who believe in humanity must not stay silent. Adam”