Darfui women and girls, eastern Chad 2006.
How many of you were with me on i-ACT1? That first trip to the refugee camps in eastern Chad was way back in November of 2005. We had this small group, a true community, of supporters and collaborators that helped make it happen, against so many odds. We knew our mission: to put a face on the mind-numbing number of dead and displaced from Darfur—to make it personal. And even though we prepared as much as possible, we really didn’t know too much more. We were taking a leap.
Chad was very different then. We arrived late at night to a city enveloped by darkness. There were barely any lights and few paved roads. Our ride from the airport did not show up. Our fixer, and only person we were counting on to help us navigate the unknown, thought we were arriving the next day, so we had to walk out into the darkness and grab an old Peugeot taxicab that looked ready to disintegrate and hope it would get us to the hotel. As we moved through the dusty streets, our headlamps exposed men with guns, standing or walking on the same roads.
After many obstacles and having to use every ounce of creativity in our minds, we made it to the refugee camps, and it was life-changing. What was going to be a one and done trip became what I do. It’s not a job. It’s a part of me, my family, and my community. Our mission to make it personal was a success, and here we are on our 20th trip.
If you were with me from that very first trip or any of the very early ones, let me know what you remember about them and about the people you met through our days of reporting from the camp. Leave a comment below or on Facebook. If you are a newer member of the i-ACT family, what do you hope to learn or see on this trip?
It still feels, in many ways, that we are taking a leap each time we come out here, but we embrace it and have been able to see amazing impact and results. Thank you for being a part of it.