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We Are Up, Up and Away—Someone Pinch Us Please

By Gabriel / June, 1, 2012

Somehow, the driver that took us to a ten minute meeting left and did not come back for forty-five. It was now less than two hours before departure for us and a team of refugees, all of them carrying temporary travel documents on their very first international flight. It was now, again, nervous time.

After about eight confusing phone calls, I was told that the driver was on his way to take us back to the UNHCR office, and we would then leave from there with the team. Not good. That could easily mean another forty five minutes. Instead, I suggested they grab the guys and meet us at the airport.

At the airport, it was slow going to get the boarding passes for everyone, but we were moving, and it was feeling not real. This is happening!

Sixteen players, dressed in their green adidas gear and looking sharp–and wide-eyed–made it to the departure gate, after going through different, sometimes repetitive steps.

As I was looking at them get in line to leave the gate, Moubarak Khamis turned to me smiling and asked for me to get in front of him. We walked out of the gate to the bus that would take us to the nicest plane I have ever seen. I’m sure it was the same as other planes, but to me it glowed as if saintly on the tarmac.

Every guy would get on the bus and give me a big smile, and I would call their name, loud and with joy: Abdelhamid! Mahamat! Mahamat! Moubarak! Abdelbassid! Ismail! Mahamat! Moubarak! Saleh! Souleyman! Yaya! Aboubakar! Mahamat! Moubarak! Saddam! Youssouf!

I felt so proud and also very responsible for all of these young men, and the words of Saleh’s mom were present in my mind: “Take care of him as if he was your own son.”

The plane started to move, and I have no words to describe my feelings at the time it began to accelerate and then shot up in to the sky. As soon as the seatbelt sign went off, I got up and went to see every player, shake their hand and share some words.

We landed in Addis Ababa, and we walked through the airport, the guys looking all around them and talking and laughing. We found a open space to sit on the floor and wait out the hours we had until the flight to Istanbul. I asked the older Mahamat, “How do you feel?”

He pinched himself on the arm and said: “I have to be pinching myself because I think I am dreaming.” So do I.


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11 Responses to We Are Up, Up and Away—Someone Pinch Us Please

  • Shannon Muhs

    You guys are AMAZING! My thoughts are with each and every player and person affiliated with Darfur United! You are ALL an inspiration! ♥

  • Rachel

    Goose bumps… This is so exciting!!! So proud of you and all the team. It’s really happening!!! Go Darfur United!!!

  • Martha Boshnick

    Love it! This is just the best thing in a long time. So excited for everyone! Be safe! Go Darfur United!

    • Nettie Parker Bauman

      whoop! whoop! it IS the best thing, isn't it? that's why i pass it along too. it really brings a lot of hope and distraction to the people of darfur. 🙂

  • Javier Stauring

    So proud of you, my little brother!

  • Martie Wyatt

    So excited and happy for ALL of you. Safe travels! We are with you all the way!

  • Adam Keala

    really I am so happy dear brother and I have to say thanks so much for the guy who mange the team keep and go head we all support you god b lease to the DARFUR.

  • Taj Haroun

    Waw! waw! You guys are amazing, its real, well done brothers, I am sure you are making a history, it will indeed be in the archives of our nation, feel so proud of you and those whom are helping, may god bless you guys. GO DARFUR UNITED

  • Arthur Gladys Aldred

    We are sp excited for you all. Our prayers are with you. Be safe in your travels. I'm so excited, I am teary eyed. Good luck in the games.

  • Teresa

    So exciting! What an amazing journey! So proud of everybody that made it a reality and of all the team members! Go Darfur United!

  • Gia Ibarra

    Inspiring!! Reading this blog and following the journey of @DarfurUnited has Inspired me in many ways. Darfur United has United Darfur and many here in the U.S. & worldwide. True world changers! Wishing the DarfurUnited team all the best! Blessings & Peace

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