By Felicia Lee
When people ask me what my favorite color is, my answer is always “rainbow,” because I love colors in general, and I love colorful things. Today, as we drove through the city of N’Djamena, I kept noticing the prevalence of color all along the streets. The gleaming silver of fat fish lying in stacks on cardboard. The matte tan of chicken eggs sitting next to glass bottles of ochre liquor. Mattresses upon mattresses covered in patterned purples, golds, and reds, piled one atop another in fort-like structures that any kid would be slack-jawed overjoyed to play in. With sight after sight of vendors plying their wares up and down the sidewalk, all I wanted to do was to walk around and look at, touch, and smell everything that was for sale.
The prevalence of color is juxtaposed with the prevalence of poverty here in the capital of Chad.
Do the refugees in their camps out in the east have the privilege of shopping in street-side markets?
As poor as most of the people of Chad are, I can’t help but wonder whether they are still better-off than the kids in Goz Amer, Djabal, and the other camps we hope to visit on this trip. There, no one truly has a home. There, the refugees are dependent upon 800 calories a day at most. (How many calories do you eat per meal?) There, mothers sell their last mattress in order to feed their family for a couple meals. There, helplessness must be what is prevalent, moreso than colorful wares.
There, is where we hope to be, sooner rather than later. (We haven’t received our permits yet.)
There, is where we hope to increase our impact on childhood development and education, and therefore contribute to better lives for refugees who haven’t had a choice but make their camp a home of sorts.
There, is where we hope to continue planting seeds of peace so that future generations are submitted to neither the parts of victim or witness, nor the part of perpetrator.
There, is where we will continue to put into play our radical hope for radical change and radical peace.
What colors do you see when you’re at the mall or at the supermarket? What colors do you see on your dinner plate? What kind of radical hope for making a difference incites you to join us in helping give Darfuri refugees the same opportunities to experience the same kinds of colors in a similar way that we do?
What’s Going On In NDJ
By Gabriel Stauring
Well, unfortunately, not much. We are still here; which, is not good. For my first seventeen trips, we would get through the capital in three or less days. It was never ever easy, but we got through. There have been changes in the process that now bring in some regular uncertainty regarding permits.
We need two permits: 1) a circulation permit that allows us to leave the capital and 2) a use of camera permit, which allows us to shoot pictures and video.
These two permits require a few signatures each at different government ministries. It has been difficult to get them.
It looks like we are stuck here through the weekend. If we get to fly on Monday, we still have enough days to do all that we need to do in both camps. We will be spending most of our time in Goz Amer, working on Little Ripples; but, we will go for two days to Djabal, to work on the Darfur United Soccer Academy.
For the days here in the capital, we stay in the hotel and use the time to do some focused work on our computers; which, involves fighting the up and down wifi. We also workout in the gym and usually have a beer at night to unwind. My teammates maintain a great sense of humor, which is a must on these trip, and everyone is getting some extra reading in and watching shows we had not watched (House of Cards). Even with all the frustrations, it’s good to be here with Sara-Christine, Felicia, and Tobi. I’ve been in touch with my good friend Oumda. I can’t wait to see him and Adam, who is coming from Darfur.
More soon, Gabriel
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