The drive to the camp is bumpy and slow but not boring. I see women with long faces and wide-awake eyes, wearing bright red and riding on camels. They stare right at me without changing expression, as our car bounces by. I see a family of monkeys, not sure what kind. They arae small and run on all fours and have skinny tails waving behind them. I see large, way too large for no-road roads, trucks broken-down, and our driver says they are going to Darfur –whenever they get fixed.
Then we get to the camp, and what I see in almost overwhelming numbers is children. Most of them are smiling but a few of the little ones are ready to run, not sure what to make of the strange people that stare at them, pointing some strange contraption in their direction. I then see friends, and all the discomfort and inconveniences and stress that comes with getting out here to this remote and unforgiving land is worth it.
While out here, I often try to check my internal map, the one that gives you a sense of where you are in more ways than purely geographically . Since I’m so focused on the mission, I sometimes need to step back and see where I am and why I’m there. As I walk around the camp, it’s almost easy to forget why all the people are there. It seems like…they just are.
Our refugee friend tells us that sometimes his children ask him difficult questions. He sits with them and tells them stories about Darfur, as they drink milk. He asks them questions about the previous night’s conversation, and the one that answers correctly gets a second cup of milk. Then, they ask their questions: Why are they here? When can they return? Why can’t they? He doesn’t know, not in a way he can answer them, his children. He still gets his milk, though.