There is something special about continuing to stand beside a refugee population that is no longer worthy of global media coverage or the visits from international celebrities and governmental officials, and as a result, no longer a priority of humanitarian budgets.
I’m sure most Americans don’t think of eastern Chad upon the mention of the global refugee crises. If people read or hear the statistic that the number of individuals forced to leave their homes per day due to conflict and persecution increased four-fold in the past four years, I doubt they know that some those individuals were people from Darfur, Sudan, again fleeing their village as it was being attacked and burned down. I’m sure most people don’t know that Chad, in fact, is 7th on the list of top 10 countries hosting the greatest number of refugees globally (1).
This lack of attention and awareness for the refugees in eastern Chad is one of many reasons why it is always so difficult for me to leave. But yesterday, in the late afternoon, we had to carry out the familiar Goodbyes and See-You-Soons with our refugee colleagues and friends. The hugs and handshakes lasted a little longer than usual as we dreaded the moment of separation. Once again, we return home and they remain, forcibly homeless, in a camp with no opportunity. Our 25 minute drive back to the UNHCR compound was mostly silent. I imagined what the people I’d been working side-by-side with each day would be doing tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. I thought about how Little Ripples teacher Rashida (picture), at the young age of 20 years old, said to me, “You can’t dream of being anything in these camps.” I reflected on the hours spent walking the camp with refugee Oumda Tarbosh, our incredible Project Coordinator.
There’s so much I could say about the work we’ve done in these past weeks and the work that iACT has done in the past six years! But for now, as I sit emotionally charged, tired, and dirty, I ask