An i-ACT expedition is a serious undertaking for certain. There’s the preparation, the travel, the heavy stories, the baggage limits at Chadian airports, the hurry-up-and-wait…
Yet to every cloud there is a silver lining, and in the cloud of the heart-wrenching work we’ve done on this trip, there is the silver lining of celebrating the end of the day with our friends in the camps at the local “hotel” – what they call a restaurant.
In Goz Amer, the hotel is a lively spot with a television playing action movies dubbed in Arabic. Refugees and aid workers alike gather to take a break from the harsh heat of the sun.
In Djabal, the hotel is a little quieter – a docile oasis in the midst of the crowds of children that follow us everywhere. There is no television, but there are plenty of mats and chairs to relax in.
The highlight for our team has become the cooler full of soda. While we can’t drink the water or eat the food (even though it smells delicious!) – the bottled sodas are safe for us to drink. During i-ACT11 we’ve tried everything available – from Arabic-scrawled Coca-cola and Pepsi, to orange “Mirinda” – to the official drink of i-ACT11: Stim.
Stim is an apple soda made in Sudan, and is the drink of choice of almost all the refugees we’ve joined at the local hotel.
Miah, Meghan, and I grew so fond of it we even bought more at the local market to have back at our lodgings at UNHCR. We even finally got Gabriel to try it!