Thursday, July 14, 2005

As another week in Darfur draws to a close, I am exhausted and drained.

In some parts of North Darfur the rains have been pounding down on us poor aid workers like whips. The drops splatter onto the tin roofs of our little offices and compounds like machine gun fire - conversation is impossible, and you can barely hear yourself think.

Of course, we are the lucky ones. In the camps, everyone is scrambling to higher ground as tents collapse, plastic sheeting flies away, and homes are submerged in feet of water. The houses that people have built out of red mud bricks become veritable swimming pools and slides: everything and everyone is soaked.

Even in major towns the water can rise up to knee-level, and the children are practically submerged in the filthy brown slush. My heart aches when I think that there is no fresh change of clothing waiting for them at home; often, in fact, there is no home for them to return to. Sleeping in their soggy rags, five to a waterlogged straw mat, these kids are a sorry sight for anyone's eyes, even our hardened aid worker ones.

The fact that diarrhoea, malaria and other rainy season diseases are almost certainly lurking just around the corner makes it all even more depressing.

Still, the resilience of the people astounds me. There is simply no time for tears, nor does anyone complain. The atmosphere is remarkably harmonious, and families in the higher-lying parts of the camp willingly move over to make room for even more people in their tiny little homes.

"We're all in this together," I am told quite often. One woman, composed and dignified despite the chaos going on around her, tells me that she is used to accepting her fate, whatever that is. "All we want is a little bit of food and some help with the shelters, just to get us through." It's not much to ask, is it?

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1 Comments:

At , Blogger keith said...

Hi.
I've just come across your blog, and really appreciate it for your honesty and frankness about life there. I've been in Burkina Faso, but am back in the UK on sabbatical. I miss Africa, and continue to read and blog about life and issues there, so will be back to read you regularly.
Best wishes.

 

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