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How We Work With Refugees

I was going to come out once, visit refugees, and help — even if in a tiny way — to tell their stories. We wanted to put a face on the numbers of dead, displaced, and surviving people of Darfur. We wanted to make it personal. I’m at the end of our 30th trip to these camps. It is personal.

It is now also professional. Our programs and impact are expanding here in eastern Chad but also beyond borders—into Cameroon, Central African Republic, Tanzania, and soon more. As we expand in numbers, we will not compromise in our values. Each individual is deserving of dignity and the power to make decisions that affect their lives and community.

We are often asked, “With the work you do and coming in contact with so much suffering, how do you not burn out?” For me, it’s that I allow myself to fully participate. It might sound counter-intuitive, but jumping in fully with compassion and empathy, I believe, inoculates me against burnout. I am working next to family and friends.

Our programs are, nonetheless, professional, systematic, researched, and effective. The important thing is, though, that our programs serve people, not the other way around.

As I was saying goodbye to friends at the refugee camp today, I was taking my time and looking at each one of them and letting them know how much I appreciate their strength, dedication, and friendship.

We will see each other again.

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