Editor’s Notes: Originally posted by Gabriel Stauring on iactivism.org.
No matter how tiring and stressful a day might have been, it will always be considered a good day—if it also included meeting up with Adam.
I woke up before 4am and had to get mentally ready to head to the airport, knowing that our names were not on the list of passengers, and it was too many of us with too much luggage trying to get on a full plane. I’m lucky that over the last couple of years, the hotel we stay at has come to its senses and started selling diet sodas. I had one ready for this morning, having bought it the night before, so I was starting one step ahead of the game. Our car to the airport was only slightly over an hour late, so that, although counting as “on time” here, took me back that one step I felt I was ahead.
Without going into details about the airport experience, all I have to say is that at 8am we were in the air, and that felt good. I tried to sleep during the flight, but as I started to drift into dreams, my mind would jolt awake with the thought of us arriving in Goz Beida only to be sent back, as had happened the previous day. Believe me, I’m pretty good with stress, and I stay in the moment pretty effectively, but this trip has tested my zen skills.
We were not sent back. We arrived in Goz Beida, and our friend Manuel (JRS Head of Office) picked us up and helped us settle in. We went to visit the local head of the police, and he was in a surprisingly happy, almost giddy mood, making jokes as he looked over and stamped our permits.
We then went to Djabal and met up with our friends Abdulaziz, Rahma, Murtada, and the four DUSA coaches Habiba, Ramadan, Adam, and Leila. Djabal feels like home, and we were received with hugs, smiles, and many greetings.
The highlight of the day was to spend time with my good friend Adam. He came all the way from Darfur to be here with us for just a few days. I value this time immensely. He told me that he thought he might never see me again, and I told him that I had the exact same thought, when I first heard he had taken his family back to his homeland. He says that things are calmer around his village, but that it was really bad just months ago. Militias would roam the area, entering the town as they wished, stealing, terrorizing, and even killing with impunity.
With the calm, he has taken care of his garden and enjoys playful time with his nine children. I can’t believe that Abdulhakim is now eighteen years old, and beautiful Raya is now thirteen. His children do not want to come back to the refugee camps. They do not want to be refugees again, Adam says. His kids ask about mine and wonder if they will ever meet. It seems impossible right now, maybe because of how impossible peace in Darfur also seems, but Adam and I keep talking about peace and about our kids. We know we can’t stop fighting for both.
I’m tired, but it was a good day.