Passing On (Reason #8 Malnutrition is not acceptable; Reason #9 Many children have spent more than half their lives in a camp; Reason #10 Teachers and leaders hope for a brighter future in Darfur)

Haboba means Grandmother. Ha-Boo-Ba. I love the sound of it. You can’t help but smile when you say it. Today we met Khaltouma’s grandmother, Hawa, and yesterday we met Rahma’s grandmother. She is blind and lives with a young girl who takes care of her. We looked for Raouda and her grandmother, Hassayna. In the more than a year we have been away, Raouda’s life has changed drastically. Hassayna passed away and, at age 13, she has been married to a young entrepreneur from El Fasher. Raouda continues her education at Obama School; now in level 5.

We also reunited with Mariam, Ali’s mother. She is so animated and loving. Smiling with hands waving, she repeated “Amouna, Amouna.” How could I forget her daughter Amouna? She was away at the garden today finishing the harvest, but I am positive the little trouble maker will find me tomorrow.

(Reason #8) Amouna’s brother, Ali, is now 15 and has not grown much since the last time we saw him. Without me saying anything, Rahma asserted, “Ali is 15 now. Just he doesn’t grow up because of the suffering.” The malnutrition in the camp continues to be seen in the tinted orange hair of the children and their stunted growth. (Reason #9) Many have spent seven years here now, almost half of their entire

Towards the end of the day we had a chance to sit down with a few of the kids who will participate in the Darfur Dream Team Sister Schools Program (link It was an open discussion, and they asked us many questions about America, and our democracy. They asked about women’s rights, and the rights of the child, very fitting since today is Human Rights Day.

(Reason #10) Towards the end, Gabriel asked how they saw their future in five years. The students responded with Minister, teacher, and journalist. Suliemen poignantly stated, “I want to go back to Sudan so I can push the people to rise up.”

Life, although perhaps not full, has continued in the camp, elders pass on and new babies are born. But hope remains with those who are determined to make a difference. I can see the influence that teachers like Suliemen have on the students. He passes on the motivation to continue with school so they can all return home to rebuild for future generations.

Salaam, ktj