I got up early to do some serious packing. Even after leaving communication equipment, soccer balls and clothing, and eating some of our food, we were still carrying with us five large suitcases, plus our heavy backpacks. Traveling heavy through eastern Chad is not something I would recommend to anyone. Well, traveling light in eastern Chad is not something I would exactly recommend to anyone either. We did make it through two airports – one tiny one in Goz Beida and one small one in Abeche. Other travelers, carrying their small packages and bags not exceeding 15 kilos look at us with disbelief when we arrive.
As we fly north, we see the terrain change quite drastically, from the greener south, to the more desert like north. If we had continued going north, up to where camp Oure Cassoni is, most of what we would see is sand – the Sahara. Here in Guereda, there are a few shrubs and thorny trees, but not a lot of other vegetation.
The last eight days visiting Goz Amer and Djabal camps have been a roller coaster, with even more ups and downs than our flights in the small planes. We laughed with our friends, but we also had our guts punched by some of the stories and feelings shared. Rahma, on our first full day with him, shared his frustrations and disappointments, as he hit the invisible refugee camp wall and came to the realization, real or not, that he might not have much of a future there. We heard stories of death and escape. Adam told us about the the importance of the donkey, an animal that made the difference between life and death for families fleeing their burning villages and not having enough hands to carry all of the children or water and food.
We are now in Guereda, a small village not far from the border from Darfur. Tomorrow we head to camp Kounoungou, a camp that has people from twelve different tribes. We’ll be here for three days; then we go. The ride on the roller coaster continues.