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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.