Starting My Day in Eastern Chad

i-ACT’s Gabriel Stuaring and James Thacher are in eastern Chad documenting the stories of Darfuri refugees. This trip, i-ACT #16, coincides with the 10th anniversary of the start of the genocide in Darfur and the more recent influx of 300,000 new refugees into the region.

I’m not exactly sure when the day begins because the night kind of flows into it. I have a hard time falling asleep, but at some point I crash and sleep for a few hours. I wake up and almost instinctively open the computer, knowing that the other side of the world is awake and moving, and I want to see what my team is doing out there and what my family is saying — I want to feel connected.

The bad thing is that connecting is not good for sleeping. After some time, I figure that it’s too late to go back to sleep and better to just start my day, eat some food, and start getting ready for visiting the refugee camp.

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Gabriel Stauring, Guisma, Bashir and Bashar. Photo: i-ACT/James Thacher


Food, it’s more like snacks: a dried-fruit bar, some nuts or a granola bar, washed down by a bottle Excel Eau Minerale—water. I drink so much water, but I only go pee maybe three times a day, and it’s still yellow. I know, too much info, but staying hydrated is a major effort out here. We’re lucky that water is not a huge issue in camp Djabal, so we can be openly drinking. In camps north of this, you have to sneak drinks when no one is looking or wait until you’re inside the car. It would not be cool to be gulping down from our bottles when the refugees get so little. It takes so much of their day to wait in line for water collection, and then having to walk with the heavy containers for what is usually a long distance home.

I take thousands of pictures during these trips, so it’s a constant task to download them and export the few that get used on blogs, Twitter, and Facebook. Writing blogs is also not easy. I feel like anything I want to say, I’ve already said it before. It’s sad that the story get’s old and the stories are a repeat of the old. But the individuals are unique and different like each and everyone of us. I think I’ve even already said this, on this paragraph before. I’m sure I have.

Before I know it, it’s time to leave the computer, even though I’m not even close to catching up on e-mails and all the regular work I usually do back home, on top of the work here. Time to head to the camp. On this trip, we have a driver who is just about always on time, David. He’s also always looking good, with stylish hats and shirts, and these amazing shoes that I can’t even describe. I hope I have a picture of them.

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UNHCR driver David and his amazing footwear. Photo: i-ACT/Gabriel Stauring


That’s the start to my day. Not too exciting, and—in reality—the whole trip feels like one long flowing space-time.

Peace, Gabriel

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