Echoes of Genocide
Genocide and mass atrocities do not end. What has been called the echoes of genocide by John Prendergast and others, remains and affects a population over generations. On the outside, communities experience long-term the chaos and instability that mass violence and destruction leave behind. Ways of life are interrupted, and what comes after might never be the same. On the inside, people carry trauma and a void that cannot be filled. Spending time with survivors of these most horrible crimes by humans against humans over the last 15 years, I’ve heard the echoes, but I will never fully comprehend them.
I’m on my way to visit Darfuri refugees on the Chad-Sudan border. This is my 31st trip to these camps, and I am full of mixed emotions. I’m about to reunite with old friends that I love and respect. I’m also going to see their communities living in a never-ending crisis, and what lies ahead is unknown. I remain hopeful. Walking next to refugees from Darfur and other places that have experienced extreme mass violence, I’ve learned that people and communities will begin to heal— even if still surrounded by uncertainty— if they are offered support, opportunity, and respect.
I’ve walked next to Oumda, my good friend and a refugee leader, who saw 47 family members killed in one week at the height of the violence in Darfur. He is a joyful, enterprising, brilliant man that dedicates his life to making his community better (and he considers all the millions of Darfuris his community). I’ve walked next to15-year-old Guisma. She has grown up as a refugee who saw four siblings die from the violence and resulting hardship. She is full of hope and dreams about being a teacher and playing soccer for the Darfur United Women’s Team. They have not forgotten what has been lost in the violence. The echoes of genocide must ring loudly in their souls. Nonetheless, they look forward and want their families and friends to experience life fully and have joy, opportunity, and hope ripple into the future even louder.