The “Good” in “Good-bye”
By Felicia Lee
The heat makes me lethargic today, or perhaps it is the sadness I feel from leaving Little Ripples and the assessment team members whom I have gotten to know over the last week. Sara-Christine and I wrapped up our training this morning and ended with an informal ceremony, during which we handed each assessor a certificate and a backpack complete with assessment gear. After playing with a handful of Little Ripples students for awhile, Gabe, Tobi, Sara-Christine, and I headed back to the UNHCR compound — home for the past 5 nights — to pack for our mini-journey to Goz Beida.
It was difficult saying good-bye to all the people I’ve grown to love and now consider my friends. I was very moved when one of the assessors, in expressing his gratitude for the training, told Sara-Christine and me that he sees us as family now, “with the same mother and father.” Really, it was all I could do to stop my eyes from leaking. The very fact that we are leaving, however, means that we have placed well-deserved trust in a group of 12 men and women: trust that these men and women can, and will, carry out highly-skilled and necessary assessments on their own.
The upbeat music that the UNHCR driver played on our ride away from Koukou and to Goz Beida helped to keep my spirits upbeat, as did the hope that I will see my new friends again someday.
See You Soon, Goz Amer. On to Djabal
By Gabriel Stauring
We’re on the move. We left Goz Amer this morning, saying goodbye to dear friends and a community that is struggling to provide for itself. As they go through these rough times, they remain proud, resourceful, and smiling.
I had some great moments with old friends and new. Ahmet, who is the after-school programs coordinator, took us to meet his beautiful family. His wife showed us their home, and when the children arrived from school, we kicked the ball around and laughed. It felt like being with family. Seeing Oumda and spending time with him is always a privilege. He is so smart and has a beautiful sense of humor. He is a tireless peaceful warrior, worrying about his people in the camp and in Darfur. It’s difficult saying goodbye.
We took the bumpy road to another small village in eastern Chad, Goz Beida. We will be here a few days and get to visit the many friends we have at camp Djabal. I can’t wait to see Achta and Guisma, and if possible, play the rematch against the twins, Bashir and Bashar, who beat Sara-Christine and I in a friendly game of soccer, 10 to 9. We’ll get them this time.
Let’s Make Sure Children No Longer Miss School Because They Are Too Hungry
By Sara-Christine Dallain
On Friday, Angelina Jolie pleaded with world powers to help the millions of Syrian refugees. You’ve probably already heard, her voice never lacks prominence among media outlets. She said, “We cannot look at Syria…and think this is not the lowest point in the world’s inability to protect and defend the innocent.”
A powerful statement and I’m glad to see my twitter feed trending with her comments, bringing attention to Syrian refugees and the ongoing conflict. Yet here I am in eastern Chad, working with a population not only long forgotten by the world but told to begin to fend for themselves. So I can’t help but think, “Yes, help Syrians, but come here too Angelina!”
Sadly, it often requires a celebrity to get others interested. So I call upon Angelina Jolie to visit and
make those same urgent statements for the people of Darfur.The violence in Darfur is still ongoing. There is a reason why these refugees remain in camps. To go back to Darfur is to risk their lives. So they stay put and continue to raise their children within the confines of camp life, an environment with little hope or opportunity. Meanwhile, we, the international community fail to collectively address their dire needs. Instead we perpetuate a cycle of poverty and violence among a population under our care.
So while we don’t have an Angelina Jolie to bring attention to refugees here in eastern Chad, we will continue to work tirelessly to be forward thinking and to call for our peers and partners to be as well. Planting seeds, creating change, and building self-reliance takes time. It does not happen by simply cutting services and food rations.
Let’s act now! Let’s begin by reducing malnutrition. Let’s make sure children no longer miss school because they are too hungry or because they have to help their parents find food. I’m so, so tired of coming to these camps, month after month, and seeing so many young children with orange hair. That’s not fair to them. Then, let’s truly address the refugee’s food security and livelihood needs by finding durable solutions through an ongoing, iterative process where the refugee themselves have a seat and an equal voice at the planning table.
TAKE ACTION: RESTORE 2100
The petition to President Obama and UN Ambassador Samantha Power.
More information about food insecurity can be found on our virtual Refugee Rations report.
To support our Little Ripples’ efforts to improve children’s nutrition and health.