I haven’t been able to travel to the Darfuri refugee camps in eastern Chad for a few years now. In 2011, I tore my ACL, and when I was strong enough to go to Chad for i-ACT 11, we found out I was pregnant. So I rejoined the “home team” as i-ACT traveled to the camps for the R2E Human Rights Library, DDT Sister Schools Program, Darfur United, and Little Ripples. I am so proud to be part of so much, but there are days that I miss my friends.
The very first person I met was Fatne in Camp Kounoungo. She came running up to Gabriel, Yacoub, and I, waving her hands and shouting jubilantly. Fatne was short with skin worn from the sun, hard work, and time. She was skinny and small, but her personality filled the space around us. Right there she began to tell us her story of a 100 people fleeing her village after an attack, and their long journey across the desert. Fatne was lucky, since many of the older Darfuris did not survive the long journey. I could tell she was strong and someone who would never give up.
We visited Fatne’s home and shared letters from Americans with her family. She told me she wanted to go home and asked if I could help. Before departing for the day, I promised I would return.
After several failed attempts, we found ourselves back in Camp Kounoungo again, and I reconnected with Fatne. Time had worn her even thinner. Her hands and feet bonier and callused from life in a refugee camp. She was so grateful for my return and told us she believed that we could help her because I had promised to return, and I did. Very few people ever return after they visit the camps.
Everyday I wake up and work to make our on-the-ground refugee camp projects and advocacy campaigns happen. I know that they are making an impact on people like Fatne, even if it’s hard to determine how much. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about the bonds I have formed with the Darfuris. I hope one day to return to Camp Kounoungo and reconnect with Fatne. I miss her very much.
Watch this great video of our reunion, with special footage from a soccer game and Adam: