There is very little firewood around some of the camps. There are barely any jobs at all in any of the camps. When an NGO decided to tackle the problem of the firewood in Camp Kounoungo, they decided to employ refugees to make iron ovens. These iron ovens use firewood, but they use less than half what the refugees normally use with their three stone ovens. By employing refugees, they make them part of the solution and invested in making it work. In Kounoungo, walking the camp is so fascinating. It has evolved in to some kind of a hybrid between a refugee camp and a village, but never quite home.
Rahma and Adam have taken the library to all six schools in Camp Djabal, for a week each. This week, they restarted the rotation.
The i-ACT team visits Camp Kounoungo. Gabriel meets up with his old friends Jacoub and Fatne.
It has been amazing to be here to watch things fall into place. While here, I have paused as I am in awe about these serendipitous moments. I wrote yesterday about awareness, actions, and serendipity. Nothing serendipitous happens without action, and serendipity is never recognized until after the fact.
There is something magical about movement. As a drop in an ocean creates a ripple, an action causes a ripple effect. What has amazed me about this, is often times these action aren’t even really connected. They are actions happening on the opposite sides of the planet, yet in some mysterious way, they are very connected.
In Goz Beida we met Jairo. Jairo is a young man from Ecuador who became aware of a need in the camps, food. So what did he do? He packed a bag, took a year off, and came to Goz Beida to create a greenhouse that could be implemented in the camps so refugees can grow food year around. (Very inspiring, reminds me of another person who came out here six years ago when he saw a need – he is not quite as young though).
Back in California, Gabriel’s friend Azra had heard of the short rain season this year and her action to help was dropping off a bag of vegetable and herb seeds. Gabriel, not knowing exactly what he would do with them, put them in his suitcase. Then after meeting Jairo, he mentioned his big next stop is getting seeds to test. Suddenly, it all became very clear. Two people, from two different places created action, which somehow was all connected in order to provide better food for the refugees.
I was also amazed today as Yakoub said he has been out of the camps for the last few months and returned just last night. We also had the experience of Adam moving to Camp Djabal, moving there in time to help with the Human Rights library. All of these being perfect moments that happened to fall right into place.
Without action, things become stagnant. It is when we make movement that the universe and others can begin to move, bringing together a perfect symphony of actions that make real change in the world. Take that next step, make that next movement or action, no matter how small it may seem in the grand scheme, for it is a ripple that will create other ripples that soon becomes waves crashing upon a shore.
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!