My husband and I saw the documentary made by Don Cheadle, called Darfur Now, about the plight of the refugees from Sudan. A week later, we’re casually talking over dinner when out of nowhere, V says he wants to go to Africa to do something to make a difference. It wasn’t idle talk; V was determined, it was almost as if he needed to go.
Still waters run deep. His. I was mostly worried about his safety as his trip became more real. It’s not like going on a safari–or the Amazing Race. The US State Department warns Americans not to visit Chad, and our embassy will not take responsibility for citizens who visit the eastern portion of the country near the camps because it’s highly volatile and filled with armed rebels.
For most people, that would be a deal-breaker. Especially when two days before his trip, this picture and an article about the hostile situation was on the front page of the New York Times.
I tried not to think about the front page–and took a page out of V’s WASP handbook instead. I stopped nagging and he went to Chad.
Aside from missionaries or relief workers, few westerners venture to this area—it’s desolate, desperate and dangerous. While V was there, a worker for Save the Children was killed by the rebels. V saw his body brought back to the airport to be shipped back to France.
From what V described, the refugees are resigned to the fact that they are going to spend their entire lives in these camps. It’s not a life; it’s an existence.
Life is bleak and boring. The women do most of the work–like building ditches for water.
But there is little to motivate them, other than surviving another day. They have no way to exchange ideas or goods with the outside world.
V’s work in Chad was to arrange a project to bring crafts made by the refugees back to the US–where they are sold at home parties sponsored by a wonderful non-profit called Rising International–whose goal is to end world poverty by empowering women all over the world.
V got rewarded beyond what he hoped to find in Africa–the chance to make a difference.