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i-ACT20 Day 10: Beautiful, Compassionate People

Walking with Oumda

By Gabriel Stauring

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I have been walking camp Touloum, from one end to the other, with my good friend Oumda Tarbosh. I’ve known him for years, and he has been involved in most of our projects and work in these refugee camps.  We visited homes, went to the market, and stopped to chat with so many refugees. Oumda is so much more than my translator. He connects me to the people and the camp in a very special way.

You have to see him speaking with men, women, and children of all ages. His voice is always calm and reassuring, even when hearing about hardship and unimaginable suffering.  Sometimes, a child will appear nervous at having a strange looking man with a camera in his house, and Oumda will touch her arm, and the little girl will immediately look at ease and happy.

It is so touching to see how welcoming Darfuris are. We enter a home, and they bring out a mat so we can sit in the shade. There is a huge water problem, but they will bring water for us to drink. If food is being prepared, they will bring us a meal, even though during our talk, they tell us that they sometimes go entire days without eating. Oumda will eat just a little and drink some of the water or tea, knowing that my weak stomach might not do well with food to which it’s not accustomed.

We spend long days in the camp, but Oumda never tires. We walk fast and do all we need to do, and he asks me: “Should we do more?” I’m a privileged man to spend so many moments with him and to be able to call him my friend.

Peace,

Gabriel

 

A leader, a message, and a woman who knows how to laugh

By Sara-Christine Dallain


Oumda: A true leader  Today I decided Oumda is quite possibly the most amazing person I have ever met. He is the definition of a leader. After a long day of walking the camps, I was reunited with the team. From a distance I could see Pat, Rachael, and Gabriel standing under the shade of a tree, surrounded by children. But as I got closer, what do I see? Oumda, sitting cross legged on the ground, with an attentive group of smiling children, sitting in a half circle around him. He was telling stories and asking them questions. They’d repeat after him, giggling. I couldn’t believe it. Well, I could. But I just stood there in complete awe of him. Any moment he gets, this man is educating others.

I’m so grateful that I know him and that he is a part of the i-ACT team. That I get to continue to work with him, to hear his stories, his insight, his wisdom, and that I get to call him a friend. Put simply, Oumda makes me want to be a better person.


Mahamat: A man with a message While speaking with a woman today, I was interrupted by Mahamat. Turns out Mahamat is the leader of the zone I was currently visiting. He wanted to welcome me. We shook hands, exchanging the traditional back and forth, repetitive greeting. He would not let go of my hand until he was finished telling me what he had to say. Mahamat wanted me to know that there is still so much violence in Darfur. Now. That there was violence long ago, which is why he said so many people live in these camps. But now more people are coming because there is more violence in Darfur. And he asked me to please share this information with people in America. Please ask them to help the people of Darfur, he said, still holding my hand.

Ambat: A woman who knows how to laugh

Speaking with Ambat today was a joy. The woman was so smiley. I’d ask her serious questions about food and life in the camps, and she would just laugh. Laugh while telling me about her hardship. About how little she eats.

I cannot begin to imagine what her life has been like or what it is like. I don’t know why she laughed. So I will not write about how amazing it is that she smiles and laughs under the circumstances. Because that would be me making a lot of assumptions about her circumstance.  However, I found her laughter to be infectious and I carry that memory with me now.

 

i-ACT20 Day 10 photos

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