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[Video] My Off-Kilter Nights

  1. not perfectly balanced or even

  2. different from the ordinary, usual, or expected -Merriam-Webster

Some of these night out in eastern Chad, I just can’t go to sleep. I turn off the light and lay in bed but immediately know that it is a lost cause, so I grab the computer and work on pictures, video, or social media — with images from the day at the camp floating through my head.

Last night, I fall asleep way too early, 8PM, but I then wake up at 11PM feeling refreshed and with a whole night ahead of me. I work on a video about a refugee woman we met by chance before leaving the camp — Anena. At some point I get tired and go back to sleep, only to wake up a couple of hours later because of a confused rooster, crowing in the deep dark of early AM. To be more precise, it is just after 3AM, and I’m up for the day.

I finish Anena’s story on the video editing software. I play and repeat her story dozens of times, internally debating what few minutes to keep and which ones to leave out. I wish the data on online viewing was different and that people would be willing to watch more than four minutes about something that matters, so I could leave in a little more of Anena’s story and not spend so much time editing out every little quiet spot on the video.

Anena’s life is off-kilter. She’s a charismatic, expressive, beautiful sixty-four year old woman. Instead of enjoying these years with her family in the homeland where she was born and loves, she is a refugee that is now in her tenth year of living in a foreign land and with memories so horrible that she seems to be at a loss of why something like that can ever happen to anyone.

To add to the “not perfectly balanced” current existence of Anena, she is suffering from malaria, and every part of her body aches, and there is not enough medicine in the clinic for her and the thousands of others that need it in the camp.

My nights will probably continue to be off-kilter for the rest of this trip. But, I will soon enough get on a plane and return home, where I will find my beautiful family and comfortable home and life. Balance restored. Anena and many others will not be that lucky.

Peace, Gabriel


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