i-ACT20 Day 7: Reality

My Silence Will Not Make a Difference

By Sara-Christine Dallain

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We arrive at the main marketplace. There is a little more bustle here, though it still feels very quiet. Some women and girls are selling produce and grains. Our colleague Pat buys a few items. Oumda helps her to negotiate the price. This is fun to watch.

It is so nice to have the opportunity to leave the UNHCR compound on my own two feet today. That is, without the escort of a UN vehicle. To get a small glimpse of life in Iriba, to see the incredible blue sky blanket above us, the scenery in the distance and to feel the resistance of the wind and sand as I walked – perhaps a little preparation for the days to come of walking the camps.

During this time out and about, in casual conversations with colleagues working in the refugee camps of Iriba, I am told about the threat to children of being recruited as child soldiers, about the bombs being dropped on Darfuri villages not too far away, and the sexual and gender-based violence that is still so prevalent. I’m not sure if I wanted to mention these conversations on my blog today. First, it is very difficult for me to convey how it feels to hear these things, especially when I am so close to it all. It’s maddening and heartbreaking. Second, I cannot give too much information or insight yet, only the brief updates that I hear from people working in these camps day in and day out. But I decided to mention them because these acts of violence are a reality for the people of Darfur. While my mentioning them might not change anything, I am certain my silence will not make a difference either.

Tomorrow morning, we rise early to meet the convoy heading to refugee camp Touloum. All week in this camp, I will have the pleasure of walking home to home, speaking with women about their daily lives, and learning about their cooking and food. Each night, I will do my best to share their stories, perspectives and messages with you.

Thank you for following our journey, Sara-Christine

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MLK Day Action: Darfur Matters


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MLK Day is a day of service, when people are called on to work together to make the lives of everyone better. Reverend King believed passionately in the power of speaking out and was willing to pay—up to the ultimate price—to use his voice on behalf of the oppressed.

Today, we ask that you use your voice to show the people of Darfur that they are not forgotten. That, while leaders have failed in providing peace and dignity for their people and their land, we stand with them and make the commitment to continue promoting their cause as long as needed.

Please send a short message to the people of Darfur, and we will take it with us to the refugee camps our i-ACT team is currently visiting. Please sign your name if you wish it to be public on the message they share in the camps.

Leave your message at the bottom of this post.

Peace, Gabriel

 

Comfort

By Gabriel Stauring


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After a few days out here, I start missing comfort. I feel guilty to even say it, because I’m not really roughing it.

I have a good bed, with a mattress that has only a few bumps. It gets very cold at night, but there’s a blanket, and I sleep with a Columbia fleece and my Darfur United hoodie.

I take a bucket shower everyday, and I’m lucky that I have a water heater—a metal thing that heats up like a hair curler and gives me the impression of being very dangerous, but it does the job.

I’m eating tasty meals. I will be losing some weight, though, since I’m eating around 1,000 calories a day, which is nowhere close to even half of what I eat back home. But, it’s also more than the 850 calories per day that the refugees are getting, and because of different issues, they likely end up eating even less.

I’m on e-mail with my family. The wifi is painfully show, but I’m connected. I do miss them intensely, though. These trips don’t get any easier, and when I hear that my little Leila is saying, “I want my Papi,” it makes me want to cry.

I really shouldn’t complain. I miss all my comforts of home, but I get to go back in the relatively near future. There are so many people, including my refugee friends, that don’t have too much to look forward to, as far as any major changes in their situation.

Peace, Gabriel

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