Saturday, November 26, 2005

I nearly fall out of my chair today during a phone call with one of my staff members in a North Darfur camp.

It has gotten quite cold in the area where we works and most of the agencies have started planning their responses to the approaching winter weather. I ask him for a quick update on our plans in this camp, and nod along approvingly as he lists the programme activities that he wants to carry out.

Blanket distributions, yep. Lots of them. Plastic sheeting to fix some of the shelters, yep. More clothing for the children, yep.

"Oh, and we're also encouraging people to get married before the winter starts." We are doing what? I jump to attention (this is stage where I nearly topple out of my chair). Surely, we're having a language problem again here.

But no, he repeats it. "We're encouraging people to get married, especially the ones who don't have blankets yet. They're cold inside their shelters at night. Just think about it - it's a lot warmer for two people sleeping together, and then of course..."

Dear God. I'm sitting up straight now and cut him off mid-sentence. "What are we doing? Hassan, can you start again from the beginning with this one? I really don't understand."

There is a silence on the line, but I think he can sense my utter disbelief. "Hassan, are you still there?"

Finally, he erupts with laughter, I can hear some others behind him joining in. "Calm down, I was just joking with you. We haven't started a marriage service yet. But it's a good idea, no?"

I'm smiling now. "Ok, you got me there. We'll keep it in mind, the marriage thing. But stick to the blankets for now."

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At , Blogger rmc2004 said...

You are doing an amazing and difficult task. Keep up your great work and your reports on it. Thanks you.


At , Blogger DaveNC said...

Nicolas Kristoff of the New York Times mentioned your blog in his Sunday Column. Kudos to you for providing first hand, unfiltered insights into a totally preventable tragedy that no one seems to care about. It seems we never learn from history. To think, Rwanda was just a decade ago. In the great tradition of Romeo Dallaire, thank you for being our eyewitness to tragedy and a spark to our collective conscience.

At , Blogger tes2005 said...

Thank you for your tremendous work and testimony in and regarding the Sudan. I also read Nicolas Kristoff's piece in today's Times referencing your blog. What organizations are you linked to--how can I best support the work you do?

At , Blogger Zephyr Teachout said...

Thank you so much for doing this -- both the work and the writing about it. I hope to check back often. I second what Davnc, rmc2004, and tes2005 said -- we need your voice.

Thank you,


At , Blogger JakeyMom said...

Like everyone else that has posted to the site since the Kristof article, I salute your great work.

I also thought I would pass along a story that might make you smile. I now live in Central Massachusetts but prior had spent 10 years in Washington, DC working for the Dept of Health and Human Services. One day, I went to a meeting that was supposed to be on poverty issues (I work on child and family policy) and turned out to be a meeting on, yes, you guessed, it how to promote marriage among the poor. Only it wasn't a joke in case, there really is such a proposal and it really gets funded. Now that I think about it, maybe it doesn't raise a smile. In any case, I wish you the best of luck in keeping a somewhat positive perspective on humanity while you are there. At least you are making a difference while the rest of us are just counting down the minutes to the latest desperate housewives episode.

Good luck, let me know if a care package of items would be helpful, and where to send.

Thanks, Audrey

At , Blogger FossilGuy said...

I hope the Kristoff column promotes a lot of readership for your blog. We are not going to know what's going on over there through our TV and newspapers, so you are doing a considerable service.

At , Blogger Deacon Tim said...

Sleepless, I'd hoped that Kristoff's column would have driven lots more readers here, but the price of being a voice crying in the wilderness is that it's awful lonely. Thank you for your work, your words, and your faithfulness. I, for one, will spread the word about your blog. Don't fall asleep just yet.

At , Blogger Larryw said...

Dear Sleepless,
I also saw the Kristoff article and have started following your blog. There was also an article in the New Yorker on Darfur. I will write to my representatives. In one of your next blogs, tell us the most effective things that we in the outside world can do.

At , Blogger JIF said...

The Kristoff article, with its reference to your witness, was a reminder that brazen, undeniable evil merits no intervention, no thoughts of regime change in the Sudan. Europe slumbers, the New World is comatose. Perhaps if we could interest the oil companies in the area the subject of Darfur might start hitting the front page and CNN? Thanks for giving us the benefit of your on-site observations. I wish you well.

At , Blogger Ruby said...

I, like most of the others, read about your blog in Nicolas Kristoff's column today. I believe you are both the kinds of heroes our world needs more of -- people who speak up after they've taken actions that support their moral and politcal beliefs.

I humbly thank you for your courage.

At , Blogger Michael said...

Thank you for keeping literally the world posted through your voice. I also hope that you would continue to do so, and that you'd be willing to share what you think those outside of Sudan can do to help.

At , Blogger Mama Kali said...

I am so proud of you!

At , Blogger FROM SPAIN said...

Amazing work you are doing!

Due to your courage displayed in your writings, I would like to draw to your attention and denounce the slave condition in which the people of Haiti who work in the 'caña de azúcar' fields in Dominican Republic are living.

These people are brought from Haiti with the promise to work in fair conditions only to find that they have been bought and are going to have to work for free: they wages consist only of a certain amount of food and water. Recently an illegal cemetery of slaughtered slaves has been found in one of the fields: these slaves had not worked hard enough...

There are two families responsible for the working conditions of these people: the Vicini family and the Franjúl family. And one man is fighting them alone in the name of all the slaves, and has consequently been the victim of numerous death threats: Father Cristopher Hartley, an admirable and brave young man who belongs to the Spanish and English highest society and who has however decided to dedicate his life (and die for if needed)to bringing justice to this situation.

You will be able to find more information on this subject


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