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i-ACT20 Day 9: Perspectives from Darfur’s Refugees

Looking for Solutions, In the Land of Not Enough

By Gabriel Stauring


There are over 300,000 Darfuri refugees in camps that dot the border between Chad and Sudan.  Most of them have been here since 2004, but many keep arriving. This region is not meant to support this many people, especially concentrated in such small areas. The environment just can’t take it. There’s not enough!

It was wonderful to visit with a group of refugee women that are working to be a part of the solution.  They run the Tchad Solaire workshop, where they assemble solar cookers and train refugees, mostly mothers, to use them.

They talked to us, as they were assembling solar cookers, doing it as if it was second nature. One woman told us that the cookers keep her children from leaving the camp to look for firewood. “It keeps my children safe,” she said.

The women seem to love their work, and they love being with each other. There are very few income generating opportunities in the camp, and even fewer for women. At the workshop, they feel proud, and they also have a lot of fun, telling stories and laughing as they work.

On my very first trip in 2005, I said in a blog: “Women are the energy that powers the camp.” That has not changed in 2015.

Peace, Gabriel [new_royalslider id=”65″]



By Sara-Christine Dallain


In one of the zones today, we kept finding empty homes. After searching and searching, we were finally told that a woman had just passed away during childbirth. Most women from the surrounding zones were gathered at her home, mourning and supporting the family she left behind. I don’t know why, but this immediately made me incredibly sad. A woman had to lose her life in order to give a new life. The global reality is that 1 woman dies every 2 minutes from complications during pregnancy and childbirth.

Juma, my friend and translator during our time in Touloum, took me to the woman’s home where many, many women were gathered. I was invited to enter the home and sit with her sister. In the darkness of the mud hut, laying under thick layers of blankets, was a tiny baby boy. The new life. She revealed the boy to me and expressed her concern for his health. She thought he was too small. I tried my best to give my condolences while trying to understand what had happened and what would happen to this baby boy.

Juma and I had to resume our work, so we left the sister, the baby, and the group of mourning women. I expressed to Juma how sad I was. How sad it made me to hear of a woman losing her life during childbirth, but Juma presented me with another perspective. He said to me, “It’s not a problem, Sara. She was taken by God. It was her time. A problem is 300,000 Darfuris killed and forced to leave their homes in just one month. That is a problem.”

Seriously. That was his response. I stopped in my sandy tracks.

A life is a life. But while I am mourning this one woman. Juma is mourning a whole population.

Every day, every hour in the camps is perspective. Sometimes it lifts my spirit and makes me feel like there is no where else I’d rather be. I see hope, laughter, joy, community, ingenuity, women playing soccer! Other times, often during the same day, it brings tears to my eyes and leaves me at a loss, stopped in my tracks. [new_royalslider id=”66″]


Selfies and More, From Gabriel’s Phone

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