Between March 23rd to April 1st, three Darfur activists will be in Chad as part of i-ACT 7. Interactive-ACTivism is a project of Stop Genocide Now, “a grassroots community dedicated to working to protect populations in grave danger of violence, death and displacement resulting from genocide.” They sent their first i-ACT trip to the Chad/Darfur border in November 2005, and have sent six other trips to the area since.
You can follow their detailed day-to-day updates, but let’s get you caught up now:
Day 0: Gabriel, Katie-Jay and Yuen-Lin leave for Chad after weeks of urging everyone (from those at the dinner table to our members of Congress) to act towards making a difference in Darfur.
Day 1: Gabriel blogs about getting UN permits to visit the Darfuri refugee camps, as well as the mounting unrest in Chad. Katie-Jay (Ktj) pens a moving piece on the necessity of international action fueled by activism.
Day 2: The team finally gets their permits and start preparing to leave the capital (N’Djamena) to visit the camps. Ktj explains the problems caused by the fuel shortage in the east, and gives some background to the camps they’ll visit and the hardships that have occurred there. She describes her Darfuri friends’ accounts as “astonishingly terrible”.
Day 3: Ktj describes the necessity of thinning down their already minimal luggage before the flight to Abeche. Gabriel worries about rebel actions against the camp while the team is there (because it’s happened before). Yuen-Lin (YL) describes the daily-rations for the refugees and how dire the circumstances in Darfur have become since the expulsion of the aid groups.
Day 4: Ktj gives a heart-wrenching description of the refugee children, suffering from malnutrition and a lack of water. According to Gabriel, 60% of the people in Djabal camp (described by YL as one of the safest and most advanced) are children. The children in Chad are the “lucky ones”.
Day 5: The team encounters refugee friends from their last visit. Ktj reflects on all of the advantages we have at home – mainly clean water and medicine – as she weathers a cold in the dry Chadian air. YL talks about the 4 children they will profile over the next few days, meeting their families and seeing their school.
Day 6: Gabriel’s blog “With the children” gives an emotional observation of the memories these Darfuri children will have to live with – ones of violence, loss and survival. Ktj says the children are smaller than they were last year, that the differences in appearance and demeanor of the children are those of night and day. Both Ktj and Gabriel expressed hopeless frustration at what an individual can do to act against the sad, hard lives these children have been forced into.
Day 7: The team connects Darfuri children in Djabal camp with students from a Save Darfur Club in Georgia who have written letters to them…giving a glimmer of hope in a place where there is little to hope for.
Those are the brief updates – Today is Day 8! Continue to track their 10-day journey by visiting the i-ACT 7 website. Roll over each day and click to select it for the blog posts, videos and pictures.
On Wednesday, Day 9, we have the chance for a conference call with the team! At 9pm EST they’ll share more about their experiences and answer your questions about their trip to Chad. We’d love to have you on the call: (269) 320-8300, access code 349902#.