Amy's Adventures in Darfur

I started this blog when I left for Darfur in June 2006. I was working as a midwife with MSF aka "Medecins Sans Frontiers" aka "Doctors without Borders" but this blog contains my own opinions and stories- not those of MSF. It is less political than I want it to be and I have been unable to post stories about certain topics due to the fact that this is on the internet and accessible to anyone. I wish I could tell you all of the stories but since I can't, I will tell you the ones that I can...

Saturday, September 30, 2006

people who rule

i just got this in an email from my friend, aviva. it's just one more example of the small things we can do that can change the world one heart at a time.....

"there is a young girl that goes to the youth group that i volunteer at, she is from sierra leon and has been here for two years and is sooo cute. i always see her dancing and singing and so i asked her a while ago if she takes dancing classes. she said no quietly, she does not have the money for anything like that. so, the next time i went to the YMCA, which is where i go to the gym i asked the woman in charge if there was any way that they would sponsor her and i explained them her story. they said, 'absolutely'!
so today i took her to get registered for the hip hop class. i took her up to the dance studio to show her where to go; it is huge and all mirrors and huge speakers....she was sooooooooooo excited, she threw her school bags down and started dancing around the room and screaming! then she lay on the floor and just laughed and then jumped up and hugged me. she has not danced since she was in africa and has felt totally empty. my god, it was so amazing to see her that excited and ecstatic about being able to take this class. "

Friday, September 29, 2006

another fine example

of how useless the A.U. presence here has been....

"Investigations of major breaches of the cease-fire, meanwhile, have been stymied. That includes an incident Saturday in which villagers who had been attacked by Janjaweed militiamen two weeks earlier gathered near the ruins of their homes in South Darfur to speak to A.U. investigators set to arrive by helicopter. But the helicopter turned back because of severe rain, and the Janjaweed attacked again, killing 18 of the survivors of the earlier assault and dispersing as many as 25,000 into a remote southern region far from humanitarian assistance or military protection"

reality and my staff

There are two more emails from Amy that you can request from her Mom ( They are titled "reality" and "my staff". You will have to write and tell her who you are and how you know Amy. In order to be careful we will not send the messages to anyone we don't know. I know that this all seems terribly clandestine with a touch of cloak and dagger but we've got to be careful. Thanks!

back in Habillah

family, don't read this first paragraph...

i HATE el geneina. i hate it, i hate it, i hate it. the last 3 days i have had FAR too much time on my hands and that means that i have far too much time to think. because my trip to kenya involved taking 4 flights each way (half of those flights on small, wobbly planes) inevitably my thoughts turn to geoff. i had it under control though, until el geneina. the last time i flew in to el geneina, in june on my way in to darfur, i saw (and mentioned in a previous email) that the air strip has the remains of two downed planes sitting beside it. the planes are fairly intact and i can manage to convince myself that maybe the people inside of them survived the landing. it doesn't make it any less of a painful reminder to see them, but it's a consolation of sorts. this time i flew in from the opposite direction and saw the remnants of two more crashes. these planes, unlike the ones on the other side, are shattered into several large pieces that spread across parts of the field. no one survived those crashes. i see this and i automatically look away but it's too late- i have just seen the red fire truck that sits beside the runway, waiting to douse our flames should our plane crash or catch fire upon landing. and in my mind i am back at geoff's crash site and the coroner is pointing towards the airport and telling us that the firetruck had been en route even before their plane crashed. he tells us that they arrived 2 minutes after the crash. they could have arrived 2 minutes before the freaking crash and it wouldn't have made any difference- he was unconscious before they landed and, if he was still alive, he died on impact. suddenly it's hard to breathe. i hate el geneina. i hate it. i hate it. i hate it.

i spent last night in el geneina, then this morning i took the helicopter back to habillah. with all of the things that people in khartoum and el geneina keep sending with me, my luggage was 25kg over the weight limit (the weight limit being 15kg) and i was afraid they were going to tell me i had to leave the care package for my team behind. if they said i couldn't bring it i would have come back to habillah for basically no reason. i arrive in habillah to find that half of my staff had a revolution in my absence. when corinne and carmenza are done explaining everything that transpired, i tell them that i wish they had emailed me before i came back because if i had known then i wouldn't have come back. they tell me that that's precisely why they didn't email to tell me. i tell them they are jerks. i didn't even go to the women's centre to see them today because i want to fire half of them now, which is not a nice way to come home.
i have only been here for half a day and i am already feeling like i want to crawl out of my skin. i don't know how i am going to stay here for another 9 days. i asked carmenza to give me something that would knock me out for a week but she said no, that it would be unethical or some lame excuse like that.
i think i'm going to go to bed and try to dream that i'm in kenya again...

never far enough away

cobie and geoff

some of the fam in happier times...geoff, markus, amy, julie, cobie

this was sent in July and I missed posting it....sorry!

yesterday and today were weird days. for the first time since i've been here i pulled out my 'geoff' shirt (the shirt that shannon had made for the memorial bbq) and put it on. i put it on inside-out so as to not have to explain to my team why i was wearing a shirt that says "in loving memory", with his name and a picture of a plane on it. i dreamt of him last night, and spent most of breakfast looking at the royal blue bracelet all who loved him wear, with his name, "forever flying" and the date of his death etched into it. i walked around all day feeling that familiar, deep-seated ache, not sure why i was feeling this way. no anniversary is coming up, no one here knows of him to mention him, i haven't been at a family dinner to notice his absence, i haven't much let myself think of him, or of any of my siblings, lately. the one year anniversary brought closure somehow, and the last few months have been a welcome respite after a year of feeling like i'd been hit by a truck. today i got two emails telling me that the fundraiser for his memorial scholarship fund was last night, and that it had gone well. i had completely forgotten about it, but it seems that even half a world away i'm still connected enough to have sensed something. it reminds me of that scene where truman is trying to explain to his wife that he wants to go to fiji because it's as far away as you can go before you start coming back again. darfur isn't just 10 hours away from my life in vancouver, it's centuries away- and sometimes it still isn't far enough for me.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

kenya aka heaven

claire, ames, sam and blaine

the four of us overlooking the waterhole in our lodge's backyard

claire, amy and the crocodile

the lioness that walked around our van to stalk the baby elephant

the elephant that side-stepped our van and walked around it, within feet of us

perfect. that is the one word that describes my trip to kenya- it was perfect. it was exactly what i needed.

my last email had me stuck in el geneina until tuesday at the earliest (it was last sunday). that day i begged to go to the airport with gustavo to see if they happened to be in a merciful mood and might let me on the plane- no harm in trying, right? we showed up there and it was a total miracle- they said i could get on the plane (we only know of one other time that they have let someone get on at the last minute). i was so excited i could have cried. now the only problem was whether or not i could get my international flight changed back to that night. i get to khartoum and am told that i am an extremely lucky girl because they hadn't been able to change my ticket yet, and had i missed the flight that night i would have been stuck in khartoum until wednesday's flight (arriving thursday). i mentally fall to my knees and praise God. i spend the evening in khartoum with gustavo and monica and we go for pizza and ice cream and gorge ourselves (showering in el geneina was the first time i have seen myself in a full-length mirror since june and it shocked me to see how much weight i had lost. i never thought i would say this, but it didn't even look good. i can't even imagine what i must have looked like when i was sick and so much thinner than i am now- i have started eating a lot more). that night we say goodbye for good as i leave for kenya and they head to geneva and then ultimately to somalia. i can't believe they're gone- they were my sanity for the last few months. i told them that when i'm done medical school i am going to come find them, in whatever crazy country they are in by then. and i meant it.

i stay up that night and catch my flight at 3:45am. i am far too excited to sleep so i drum my fingers for most of the flight. surprisingly no one kills me for it. i arrive in malindi, grab a taxi and finally, after 6 weeks of eager anticipation, arrive. claire is sitting on the patio of our room and books it out to hug me. there are no words to express how happy i was to see her. claire is one of my favourite people on the planet. she is one of those kindred-spirit old-souls who you can talk to, or not talk to, about anything. she's a fellow canadian, a fellow midwife and a fellow spur-of-the-moment fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants girl. when i told her i was going to new orleans in september she said "should i come with?". moments later i was booking her ticket. when i asked if she wanted to meet me for this vacation she said "not if you're going to egypt you psycho, but i'll come to kenya" (i was unaware of the conflict in the middle east when i suggested cairo, just for the record). she was the perfect person to spend the last week with.
so there we were, in kenya. there was only one problem... our hotel sucked. claire's travel agent had booked it for us and we arrived to find that not only does that hotel not exist anymore, the new one has no reservations for us and the deal we had been quoted was totally out of date. thankfully there were only 2 other guests in the entire hotel, so there was plenty of room for us. oh, and when they say that their hotel is "beachfront", what they mean is that they own a small piece of beachfront land that we have to drive to for lunch. the food sucks and they charge us for everything. and i do mean everything. they charged me when i asked them to call us a cab. so we got into that cab and took off for watanu and a luxury, truly beachfront resort. it was amazing. the food was amazing, the drinks were amazing, the service was amazing, the beach was amazing. all of it. amazing. white sand, turquoise water, palm trees, tropical birds, blue skies, people bringing you cocktails everytime you pause for more than 5 seconds....amazing. the best part of turtle bay was that i got to spend the week with not just one, but three of the best people on the planet. on our first day there i got in the pool to play waterpolo with a big group of people. there was a young british couple on my team and i found myself totally drawn to them. they were so funny that i spent most of the game laughing at them and letting the other team score on us. i got out of the pool and told claire that it was our mission to make friends with them. i moseyed on over to where they were sitting, struck up a conversation and that was it- we became a family of four. blaine and sam, a gorgeous couple who have been together for 7 years, were there on their honeymoon and it became a group deal. that first night we had drinks with them and when they went to have a cigarette i turned to claire and said "i want to marry them". she replies with "maybe they'll adopt us!". by the second day we had already established who sat where at the table for meals, who got made fun of for what, and we had made plans to go on safari together. during the day we lay by the pool, played waterpolo and volleyball, got massages, napped in the air conditioning, drank cocktails and ate our faces off because this resort NEVER stops feeding you and/or bringing you drinks (i kid you not, i'm not even slightly bony anymore). in the evening we would shower off the sand and sunscreen and dress up a bit for dinner. at dinner we would start with the drinks and it just went from there. my one discovery of the vacation, and thank God i discovered it, was that if you drink wine and milk together, you don't get a hangover. ok, hear me out. and yes, this is what i was mercilessly mocked for. i had a sore on the roof of my mouth that wouldn't heal for days. it hurt every single time i took a bite of food or drank anything other than milk, but i was determined to eat and drink regardless. so the first time i drank a glass of wine i had a glass of milk as well. after each sip of wine my sore would sting, so i would take a sip of milk to soothe it. the morning after the first night where we each drank about a bottle and a half of wine, claire was completely hung-over and useless and i was bouncing out of bed, ready to eat breakfast and hit the beach. it was fabulous. consequence-free drinking. right... back to the evenings...after dinner we would sit by the beach to listen to music and have more drinks. sometimes we played cards, more often we just talked, laughed our heads off and danced.

the safari: one of the best experiences of my life. we started out at an unGodly hour and the four of us piled into the van with jeffrey, our safari guide. we drove for a couple of hours on the kind of road that causes brain-damage. by the end of it i'm pretty sure all of my internal organs had torn loose from the viscera that holds them in place and had fallen into my pelvic cavity. aside from that, the ride was fantastic. it was a total glimpse into the real kenya. the people, the huts, the scenery. we reached tsavo national park and began our safari. tsavo national park is 13,000 square kilometers, which i think makes it one of the biggest (if not the biggest) national parks in the world. once we got inside the gate jeffrey lifted up the roof of the van. the roof went straight up and left about a foot and a half of open space, allowing us to stand in the van and look out over the sides, while being protected from the sun (and large leaping animals). we all stood up and braced ourselves to keep from being tossed around. our first up-close and personal moment was with giraffes. they were right beside the road, chomping on the leaves at the top of the trees. they were HUGE, and so weird looking. they walked by us and were so close that we could see their muscles rippling as they started to run. along the entire ride we saw countless animals- zebras, birds of all kinds. antelope, baboons, bush babies, warthogs, dik diks, waterbucks, impalas, gazelle, oryx, and all kinds of african animals whose names i don't remember- but there are 5 animals that are referred to as "the big 5", that are the coolest and rarest to see. of those 5, we saw 4. our next experience (one of the two that made my entire trip) was when we drove right into the path of a wild elephant. it was walking down a path and about to cross the road and we stopped right in front of it. it looked at us, side-stepped us and walked, indifferently, right by our car. i could see his eyelashes and every crevice in his skin- that's how close he was to us. a wild elephant. ENORMOUS. after he walked back into the trees i turned to claire and said "i hope my grandmother saw that". she loved elephants and i have many of her elephant figurines to remember her by. i know she saw it. next we see a lioness by the side of the road, chilling out in the shade of a small tree. we get to the lodge and it is crazy-cool. it is built beside a water-hole and a salt pool, and our rooms overlook them. we sit on our back patio and watch the wild baboons laze around in the field by the water. three of them hop the electric fence that is set up to protect the guests and hang out in our backyard. elephants come at night to bathe themselves in the salt pool and the hotel will knock on your door at any hour of the night to tell you to come see them if you put your name down for the wake-up call, which we did. we have lunch then take off for the afternoon safari. this is the one that kicks ass. most of the time that you're on safari you are driving at a leisurely pace, with everyone looking in different directions, trying to spot a reason to stop. occasionally, however, jeffrey would hear something over his radio then put his pedal to the floor. we, in the back, would be tossed back into our seats, where we would put on our seatbelts and say "i bet it's lions". the safari guides work together and when one of them finds something cool and/or rare, he radioes the rest of them and everyone books it over there. jeffrey never told us what to expect so it was always a surprise. this time we find that there is a lioness to the left of us and a herd of elephants to the right of us. the lioness gets up and starts to walk towards our car. i have developed the habit of yelling to the animals to tell them that i will give them a banana if they come to our car, which no one minds when i am talking to harmless animals, like baboons. the lioness is still coming straight towards us and claire says "am i the only one who is getting scared?". i say "hey lioness!". claire says "shut up amy!". i say "guess what claire said about your mother!". she is coming closer and claire leans down to close the window. she walks RIGHT by our car, then behind it, and comes out on the other side where she proceeds to stalk the newborn elephant. the herd sees her and starts to move away, with the baby sticking very close to its extremely large parent. it was unbelievable. next we see a small group of ostriches, which we hadn't known to expect. we stop and watch 3 males doing a courtship ritual with 2 females. i got it on video and it rules. the sun is starting to set and we are slowly driving through the african wilderness, watching herds of wild elephants walk by, single file, looking like they are moving in slow motion. it feels like a dream. claire and i keep looking at each other and saying, in astonishment, "we're in kenya" "we're on a freaking safari!" "that was a lioness that just walked by us". the sand we're driving through is a deep red and by the end of the day we are all covered in it and our hair is approaching dreadlock status. we head to the lodge where we are so tired from standing and bracing ourselves in the car all day, plus our early morning, plus the hot sun, that we fall into bed at around 9. that night i wake up from a bad dream and can't fall back asleep. i consider sleeping in claire's bed but she's been sick and not sleeping well so i don't want to wake her. instead i head to the back patio where i can watch the animals at the waterhole in the bright moonlight. we are in the middle of nowhere and the sky is a thick blanket of stars. i went back to bed for awhile, then got up to watch the sun rise over tsavo, which was spectacular. after a big breakfast we head back out. this time we aren't out for very long before jeffrey starts booking it towards our next surprise. we get there to discover that we are looking at four RHINOS!!! we had been told all along that we won't get to see rhinos because they have been so poached over the years that there are only 12 left in the entire park (the 13,000 square kilometer park). the guides haven't seen rhinos in over a year and yet, here they are. claire is in awe that we were looking at a 1/3 of their population that morning. it was crazy. we have noticed that each time we say "i really want to see..." we end up seeing it. especially when claire says it. clearly God is on our side so we start saying things like "i really want to see a leopard" (claire), "i really want to see an entire pride of lions" (sam), "i really want to see a million dollars in cold hard cash, lying by the side of the road" (me). sadly i never saw my million dollars, nor did claire see her leopard or her cheetah. we kept driving and saw a van pulled over, which is always a sign that someone has found something cool. we stop and see that they are looking at a herd of zebras, which we have seen a million of and now find unimpressive. then they point to just beyond the zebras where there is a pride of 11 lions lying around. we're watching this and wondering what the hell the zebras are thinking, just hanging out, eating grass, with an entire pride of lions a short distance away. i say that if i was them i would be sloooooooowly walking away, all casual-like, until i was out of sight, then i would run like hell. and this is precisely what they started to do. one at a time, each of the zebras would walk to the right of us, and once they reached a certain spot where they weren't visible to the lions they would totally hoof it into the trees. it wasn't until after they had gone that we saw two lionesses stand up from where they had been lying in the sandpit right beside the zebras, stalking them. 13 lions, not 11. as we drive away we see a van pulled over and people on the side of the road. we ask jeffrey if they are insane, as no one is allowed out of their cars, and he points out that they have a flat tire and all have to lift the van so the guide can change the tire. as we drive by we can see that they are all looking unsettled, so we don't mention that we just went by a pride of lions. we did joke about it though, which probably wasn't very nice of us. i figured that after that we were in store for a flat ourselves, but thankfully we weren't. apparently tsavo used to be really known for lion attacks because it was so desolate that there wasn't enough wildlife to keep the lions fed. the men who were working the railway used to have to walk from nairobi to mombasa and it was very common for them to be eaten by lions along the way. it is now early afternoon and we start to head out of the park. we stop for lunch at a beautiful little restaurant that is perched over a river. some of the men there ask if we want to see the crocodiles so we head down to the river with them. they start to throw rocks in the water, whistling and splashing the water with their hands. and slowly we start to see crocodiles showing up. we are standing on the side of the river and the men toss rotten meat on the ground, encouraging the crocs out of the water. they come out and we are now standing within 6 feet of them. claire and sam start to back up. at one point the crocodile lunges forward and that's it- claire and sam are gone. they were gone before i even had time to turn around to run, so i'm pretty sure they actually levitated up the hill. i have to admit, it scared the crap out of me too. those things are WAY faster than you would think. thankfully the tribal guy stopped him before he got to us. that was one of those experiences that you will never forget. we stood within 3 or 4 feet of a wild crocodile (the one that lunged at us), with no fence between us. awesome. after a beautiful lunch we get back into the van for the bumpy ride home. towards the end of it claire is saying "i think i'm going to have to kill myself if this doesn't end soon. my head is about to fall off". we get back to the resort and shower the centimeter of grime off ourselves. after my shower i am shocked, and thrilled, to discover that i wasn't just filthy, i was tanned! i have never had a tan on my face in my entire life and here i am with a golden hue to my skin. my arms are totally brown but sadly it is only obvious when i put them next to my white, white stomach. still.

on my last night i started to feel sick at the thought of having to go back to darfur. i also made the mistake of getting online and reading geoff's memorial website, which i haven't read since may or june. most of the night was fantastic, but then i felt myself starting to distance myself and feel moody so i went to bed. the next morning i was still in a weird mood and claire was hungover, but we made ourselves join sam and blaine on the beach for a tour with captain john. he took us on a walk through the dead coral (the tide was out) and we had a wicked time. in one tidal pool he coaxed a huge moray eel out of his hole. then one of the men caught him and i got to hold him. slippery little suckers. they showed us all kinds of coral, fish, crabs, starfish, shells. another hole had an aggressive eel in it so they dangled a stick with food on the end of it in front of him and he tossed himself out of the water and up onto the rock that sam, claire and i were standing on. sam jumped back and knocked into claire, who fell into me, who just narrowly avoided falling into another huge tidal pool. then they gave me the stick with the food and i got to entice the eel up out of the water. he was a very unfriendly fellow. not at all like the other big one that i had held. by the end of it we were laughing our heads off and deciding to stay for another week (which we didn't end up doing, sadly :) and that was the end of it. we headed back to the resort and i packed my stuff up. claire was leaving the next day so it was just me going. i said goodbye to everyone, did my best not to cry or throw up, prayed that the flight would be cancelled or bombed or whatever it would take for me to not have to go back, and left. it's a good thing there was no one travelling with me because i was completely uninterested in talking. i hated having to leave them and i hated having to go back to sudan. i half hoped that something would happen at immigration and they wouldn't let me back in the country. no such luck. the one good thing is that i got back to find that rather than spending two days in el geneina i was spending two days in khartoum. rooms with air conditioning, stores with good food and western toilets. luxury. i have spent most of my time here just eating and sleeping in the air conditioning. i fly back to el geneina tomorrow then take the helicopter to habillah on thursday. phil told me that i don't have to go back if i don't feel safe, which i don't really, but i am going back. it's only for 11 days, the au is staying so i feel that the tension will have lessened somewhat (side note: FANTASTIC that the au is staying longer. maybe once they're done we can send in the boy scouts. they are sure to be just as effective. am i the only one who has noticed that the war is back on, even with the au still here? can someone please tell me what they're doing here, besides easing western guilty consciences and assuring khartoum that no one is going to interfere with what they are doing in darfur). i wouldn't go back (and am, in fact, extremely tempted to just fly to geneva from here) except that claire brought a huge care package for my staff and my team, and i owe it to them to say goodbye. i don't think that darfur is safe for caucasians anymore and i'm not going to be very relaxed while i'm in the region. the fact remains that we, the international ngos, are not wanted in darfur by the powers that be, and it is only a matter of time before that is made more obvious. since killing our national staff hasn't worked, we figure it will be an expat who is killed next. i noticed something funny on vacation. when i arrived in khartoum and ate food that required actual chewing (i'm used to soup and rice mostly) my jaw was really sore, likely from me clenching my teeth as i sleep. it hurt for the first couple of days that i was on holidays, then it went away. then when i was on the plane on my way back from kenya, i noticed that i was clenching my teeth again, and by the time i got back to khartoum, it hurt to chew again. it's definitely time to pack it in.

i will be home in less than a month and i can't wait to see all of you who are in van. claire, you are a total rockstar and i absolutely love and adore you. thank you SO much for giving me the best therapy i could have possibly imagined. blaine and sam, the same goes for you. spending a week with 3 people who are so lovely and so pure in heart was the best thing i could have done. this trip was a complete answer to prayer and the three of you are blessings from God. i love you guys.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

two women...

if you are interested in reading this please contact me (Amy's Mom)at and let me know who you are and how you know Amy and I'll forward it to you...some stories are just too politically or personally dangerous to post!

Monday, September 18, 2006

el geneina, sweet el geneina

actually el geneina is a total hole, but at least i'm out of habillah! the helicopter arrived yesterday at 2:30pm, (supposed to get there at 9am) so i spent all morning going crazy, thinking it wasn't coming again. when we finally heard on the radio that it was on its way, we screamed and jumped up and down and then i chased our cook around, pinching her butt. having it actually arrive was one thing- the other question was whether or not i was going to get on it. i was so nervous i have no fingernails left. surprisingly, as it was landing, the u.n. woman told us that i was on the list but gustavo wasn't (he who had been waiting since last monday). thankfully the pilot had a different list and we both got on. i was so happy i almost knocked carmenza over when i hugged her goodbye. the part that sucked is that i missed my connecting flight to khartoum. the other part that sucks is that they could only book gustavo on the flight to khartoum today. tell me if this makes sense to you... my flight out of khartoum is tonight and gustavo's flight out of khartoum is tomorrow night. so they book him to fly to khartoum today and me to fly there tomorrow. this means that i miss my flight tonight and gustavo sits in khartoum for an extra day. yeah, makes no sense to me either. the only reason i'm not fighting them about it is because gustavo has been waiting to be with monica since monday and at least he can spend that extra day in khartoum with her. ah, the
sacrifices i'll make for love :) i asked them to try to get me on the standby list today, so we'll see. even if i miss my flight tonight i would rather wait the extra day in khartoum where you can eat good food and sleep in air conditioning.
last night i had the best sleep i've had in the last 4 months. no radio in my room. no one calling me, no one calling carmenza, no one calling the driver, no random crackling static. not a sound. i fell asleep in the livingroom at 8pm, then got up and crawled into bed later. then i slept right through till morning. bliss. i shared my room with two big fat lizards so i felt that it was probably quite spider-free and i slept deeply.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

hello all, greetings from darfur! yes, i'm still here (stupid helicopter), but i'm feeling better about life because i keep getting the greatest emails about the Global Day for Darfur and all that is being done to raise awareness right now. i'm SO happy to hear that my city is gearing up for a huge rally and my favourite singer (sarah mclachlan) is going to be performing at it! please, please, please go to the rally. all of you. and bring everyone you know. if you think that you are "too busy" to go, please look at the pictures i have on my blog and know that those children may well not live to see their next birthday. every single person in my stories is a real human being. and every single one of them stands to lose their life if the world continues to just sit back and watch. none of you can claim ignorance. none of you can tell yourselves that you didn't know. you all know. we all know. this is your chance to make yourself heard. this is your chance to get involved. please go the rally and yell until something is done to stop this atrocity.
much love and gratitude,

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Off to Kenya

alright, first things first... for the next two weeks please cc any emails you send me to my hotmail account. i'm supposed to leave tomorrow morning for my holiday in kenya and i won't have access to this account until the 28th. i say "supposed" to leave because it just happens to be up in the air at the moment. the helicopter that takes us from here to el geneina is on the fritz and gustavo, who has been trying to get out of habillah since monday morning, is still here. they have a policy of letting the people who have been waiting the longest get on first. i have already told carmenza to have a syringe full of diazepam with her at the airstrip tomorrow because if they don't let me on the helicopter i am going to have an actual nervous breakdown. if crying doesn't get me on, and duct-taping myself to the helicopter doesn't work, i'm buying a camel and hoofing it to el geneina. i'm going on holidays and NOTHING is going to stop me. i can't even express to you how much i need this holiday. monday morning, as we were seeing gustavo off at the airstrip, i fell to my knees in front of my entire team and started vomiting yellow stomach acid all over the sand. not sick. just stress. it was fab. the helicopter is taking off, everyone else has driven away, the sand is swirling all around us, they didn't let gustavo on, and there i am heaving in the sand with a dozen comforting hands on my back.
then there's the fact that my hair has started falling out (carmenza's too). and we aren't sleeping at night. and apparently i've become "quiet", which is worrysome to some, welcome to others :) i feel like i'm on the verge of tears almost every moment that i'm awake, so i try to sleep as much as i can. i was lying on the mat outside of the whc today and joyce felt my forehead to see if i was sick. she says "sudan isn't good for Amy". aicha replies "sudan isn't good for anyone".
we've heard that the local paramilitary have been getting visitors at night. those visitors tell them that the "hawagas" are coming to murder their children and steal their camels. they don't clarify the difference between u.n. troops and any other white people, they just tell them white people are coming. i find it interesting (and mildly amusing simply because it's so not true) that they are trying to get them riled up to fight the peacekeepers by scaring them with tales that have people doing back to them what they have spent the last 3 years doing to others.
and so we sit here, waiting for this all to explode. not far from here, the au is finding mass graves of the people killed in the government attacks. and the world still drags their feet.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

"i never thought we would stay alive this long"

kate just sent me this next quote which, as she put it, is harsh but good. i think it is harsh but true:

"Are you dead? Pain or damage don't end the world, or despair or beatings. The world ends when you're dead. Until then, you've got more punishment in store. Stand it like a man, and give some back. --Al Swearengen"

i don't know why i'm including it. maybe because after this experience i've found it to be so true that reading it could have gone either way. i could have laughed or i could have cried. thankfully it caught me in a good moment and made me laugh.

things here get worse every day. media reports say that the government continues to bomb villages in their ongoing search for rebels- once again, killing the men, women and children of darfur. i watch the ways it is changing the people here. the false sense of security they once had is fading- it is still present but hanging on by a thread. we will be sitting outside the whc, laughing about something, when suddenly we will hear a slight sound and everyone freezes in terror. they rapidly search the sky looking for the source of the noise. "antonov??? antonov???". antonovs are the planes that the government uses to bomb the villages. the men in the planes open the back of the plane and roll the bombs off the back ramp. not exactly a method of precision. hardly surprising that the bombs intended for the rebels structures land on homes full of children. the other day i was sitting with one of my staff when it happened. when we realized that it was just a un helicopter she relaxed. i asked her if the people here were aware of what was happening in darfur and she said yes- they know everything. we sat there in defeated silence for awhile, then she started to speak....."i will never forget the day this all started". the night before, the paramilitary had told the army that they would be attacking a village with rebels, but no one knew which village they were going to attack. it turned out to be a village relatively close to here. when the attack on the village started, the people of habillah could hear the bombs landing and that night they could see the flames all the way from here. at around 8 the next morning they began to see the people running towards habillah. there weren't many men left, it was mostly women running with their children. the few men who remained had run into the fields and managed to escape. it was rainy season and the crops were high enough to hide in. the women of habillah had a quick meeting and decided to put everyone into one of the schools. all of the local women were sent home and told to cook everything they had, quickly, and to bring containers of water. everyone brought all of the money that they had and put it into a pot. a group was sent to the market where they bought 200 sacks of sorghum, lentils, oil, salt and dried fish. another group took the sorghum to the mill to have it ground. everyone brought their dishes to the school and divided them among the new arrivals. the people were told to gather themselves in groups of ten families. each group was given enough food and dishes to feed themselves. this went on for a month before the council finally bought sorghum and donated it to the idps. every day more people arrived as village after village was attacked. both schools filled up and local families began to take the people into their homes. WFP finally arrived and called for the teachers of habillah to help them with a food distribution. each new arrival was registered and finally there began to be some sense of order. for 6 months the villages around habillah were emptied of their rightful owners, then taken over by nomads. the most surprising part, she said, was that you weren't being attacked just by strangers. local people- people who had had their stalls beside yours in the market for your entire lives- had joined in on the attacks. the few people who dared to ask "why are you doing this? you know me" were killed instantly.
while the constant arrival of new people caused chaos here, the attacks happening around habillah were being carried out with order. the big attacks were on wednesdays. tuesday nights were a night of terror as everyone waited to find out if they were next. each area had it's own specific group attacking their villages. the attacks happened in four stages. the men surrounded the village in order to keep escapees to a minimum. the first wave of men entered the village, usually during a time when the men in the village would be praying and in one group that was easy to target. the first group of men were responsible for killing the people and emptying the village. men were the primary targets (chased into the fields and shot in the back), but women and children were not spared if they were easily accessible. once this was accomplished, the next wave of men entered and looted the huts for valuables. all of the pillaged items were strapped to the camels and taken out. the 3rd wave of men were the ones who gathered and stole the animals of the village. once they were out, the 4th and final group came in and burned the tukuls down.
the people who escaped ran for their lives. those who couldn't keep up and couldn't be carried- the sick, the handicapped, the elderly, and some of the children- had to be left behind. some died during the journey. some were killed when they tried to make it to chad- the paramilitary were patrolling the border. the dead were left unburied. if you didn't arrive at the next destination you were presumed dead- no one could go back for you.
if you had to choose between carrying your newborn, your toddler, your elderly parents, your sick sibling, your injured spouse, any of your several young children... who, and how, would you choose?
eventually it came habillah's time to be attacked, as i told in a previous story ("they say we are at peace now"). even when the government assured them that habillah would not be attacked again, no one trusted them. every sunset the people of habillah would quietly gather their things and sneak out of the village and into the forest to wait out the night. it wasn't until the ngo's arrived in numbers that the people felt safe enough to stay.
when she finished her story i begged her to take her children and go to khartoum where their father lives with his other wife and children. i would give her the money to get there. she told me she would never leave her family- and there was no room for them there. "if they kill us they kill us" she said resignedly "anyways, i never thought we would stay alive this long".

Friday, September 08, 2006

crap day

before today i thought that there was no adrenaline rush greater than hearing margret calling me on the radio in the middle of the night (note: margret is incapable of calling me on the radio without screeching my name frantically and at the top of her lungs, regardless of how minor the issue may be. it is a voice that i will hear in my nightmares for decades to come)(second note: don't get me wrong- i love margret. i have come to find her insanity quite endearing). this, of course, is only because i sleep with earplugs and i manage to not hear the shootings and the bombs that have been happening at night lately. thankfully. this morning i had an adrenaline rush that i'm pretty sure just upped my degree of post traumatic stress about a millionfold. i heard carmenza get called on the radio early in the morning. i thanked God that they weren't calling me and started to go back to sleep. shortly afterwards i heard gustavo call carmenza to ask if she was ok, which i found odd. she assured him that she was ok and i chalked it up to gustavo being groggy and confused which is a typical gustavo state between midnight and noon. when we got up for breakfast they told me that there had been 3 bouts of shooting this morning and it had been really close. one of the bouts had been as carmenza was on her way to the hospital. this obviously puts you a bit on edge. corinne and i headed to the hospital as per our usual morning routine. i got out of the front seat and started towards the WHC. as i was walking towards my staff i saw a huge truck pull up on the other side of the hospital, full of soldiers. this put me even more on edge and i paused. then they started shooting and i think my heart almost exploded. i heard screams and saw my staff turn and run- making it the absolute most terrifying moment of my life. i turned to run back to the car to crawl underneath it. corinne was jumping back into the back of the car. my driver was yelling "mafi mushkila! mafi mushkila!" which means that there is no problem. corinne and i stop for a second and look at him, confused, because when someone is shooting at you there is DEFINITELY a problem and he explains that it is just returning soldiers who are shooting in the air to announce their arrival. fantastic. this village is already a bundle of nerves and you think it's cool to start shooting into the air and scaring the shiite out of everyone?

i get back to the women's centre and find that "h" has been desperately trying to find me. she tells me that a masalite woman had been sitting in the market, selling her things, beside a nomad woman with her baby. the baby had crawled towards the masalite woman who had taken her into her arms and held her. the baby was thirsty so the masalite woman took what she thought was water from beside her and gave it to the baby to drink. what the woman didn't know was that her daughter had bought diesel and put it in that container. the baby became violently ill and the nomads surrounded the woman and started to accuse her of doing it on purpose. once in the hospital they told our staff that she was not to leave until they found out how the baby was, because if the baby died they would kill her. when they started to physically attack the woman, "h" and "m" protected her, with "h" taking some of the beating. they also told "h", who had the good fortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, that if the baby died it would be her fault for not providing good care and they would kill her as well. they then announced that they were going to get their men. "h" came flying back to the women's centre to find me and when i heard the story i radioed gustavo. he arrived and convinced both parties to go with him to the police station to sort things out. thank GOD he is a master mediator. these kinds of situations can easily lead to the loss of lives, if not tribal wars. no joke.

i got home after work to discover that two more packages had arrived from my family. i tear them open and then laugh for about ten minutes. amidst all of my treats are 5 small bottles of bailey's. i set it aside for a night when we will need it- whenever that may be. turns out that night is tonight.

(i've deleted this paragraph so you may not understand the rest of this email. sorry)

carmenza, corinne and i were just sitting in the livingroom talking about the "what ifs". we were completely stressed out so i got up, heated up the remaining milk, poured it into 5 small mugs and added bailey's to each one (one for andi and gustavo too). we sat outside, drank it and had to restrain ourselves from licking out the bottles. carmenza keeps telling me how much she loves my mother. by the time we had finished it we were completely tipsy and starting to make jokes about the situation (disturbed jokes- black humour- but jokes nonetheless). we decide that if we wake up (haha, as IF any of us are going to be able to sleep tonight) to find that we are leaving immediately, we are going to eat M&M's and drink bailey's for breakfast.

and the personal aspect.... now i don't even know what i want to happen- i'm so torn. i want them to come in, to give the people i love a fighting chance at a future, but i do NOT want the ngo's to leave. it is the ngo's who are helping to keep them alive with food, water, supplies and medical care. i love our staff so much that it hurts. the thought of us leaving them behind to whatever fate awaits them is TEARING ME UP INSIDE. i want them to be safe. i want them to be secure. i want them to have food to eat and to feed to their children. i want them to have medical care. i want them to be treated mercifully. i want them to live through this and see an end to it. i want them to know, and raise their children in, a darfur of peace.

(sorry, deleted this paragraph too)

so what do i do? a month ago i would have absolutely rejoiced to hear that we were leaving and leapt on the next plane. i could have gone home with no shame- it would have been out of my hands. i hated it here with a passion and i was done. now things are different. i have found my purpose in being here. last night i started to try to clean up my email inbox and i was reading old emails. i found one that i sent to my Christian friends a few weeks ago with specific prayer requests. while none of the one's for darfur seem to have been answered ALL of my personal requests were answered. though grateful for all of them, one of them struck me the most. i had asked for prayer for "the ability to truly BE here, not to feel like i'm just trying to survive until i can get out of here". and that is completely what has happened. in training leimona, aicha and houda, i have come to truly be here. rather than dreading them, i look forward to births now (middle of the night or not). rather than hating having to be at the women's centre doing consultations during the day, i love every moment that i am teaching these women something or watching them practice what they have learned. i am going to be able to leave habillah with a handful of women who are well trained in doing safe deliveries. i have trained, and am continuing to train, ten fantastic tba's in the basics and they have increased their knowledge in so many areas. they are so excited to come to the trainings and so proud of themselves for learning so much. when i have left other countries i have felt like my contribution to that place was done. i had been a temporary bandage on a hemorrhaging wound. when i left afghanistan i felt that all that i had been through there had been for nothing. now i feel like i've actually done something for the people here. in return, they have blessed me immeasurably with their love and their lives.

the problem? as much as i love my staff, i love my family more. i'm not afraid to die- especially if i had to lose my life trying to keep others safe- especially if i felt that God told me to stay. i am a Christian and i know, without a doubt, where i am going. and frankly, after experiences like this, Heaven is a really tempting thought. is there really a place where every day doesn't hurt? sign me up. that would be wonderful for me, but my life is not just about me- i have a family who loves me and how could i make them go through losing another child? the thought of suffering that loss again, even for a second, kills me. a year and a half later, the pain is still there and it always will be. how can i make a decision that might make them, the people dearest to my heart, get another phone call telling them that a loved one is lost to them? i couldn't do it. i can't do it.

maybe tomorrow morning i'll find out that the troops won't be deployed and this entire email will be irrelevant. maybe i'll wake up tomorrow morning and feel that God has told me to stay regardless of what happens. or maybe i'll wake up tomorrow morning and know that it's time to go home. at this point only time will tell.

ps i think i rambled a lot in this email. i haven't had a drink in a really, really long time and i'm definitely still tipsy. too bad there's nowhere to go dancing in this joint :)

some of my favourite excerpts

i have been trying to go through all of my emails lately, to clean out my inbox before i leave. i can't help but read them all again and be reminded of how much you guys have supported me, in so many different ways, during this experience. some of you have donated money to msf and other organizations working here in darfur, some of you have faithfully prayed for me, my team and for the people of darfur, some of you encouraged me to stay and fight when i was ready to quit, some of you made me feel strong and brave (and cool :) enough to do this, some of you have sent care packages to keep my team sane, some of you have started to tell everyone you know of what is happening here. every single one of these things helps. all of you have made me feel that if I have accomplished nothing else here in darfur, the emails I have sent have accomplished témoignage- the ultimate goal. these are some of my fave quotes from your emails- in no particular order. i'm sorry that i couldn't include quotes from everyone as i erased a lot of my emails before i thought of writing this. if any of you want your names taken off, please let me know (i tried to keep ones that might be private anonymous).

from my mom:

***** donated $100 dollars of her hard earned summer money to World Vision in your name, ***** and ***** both made donations to MSF in your honour, as have **** and ****, and I can’t tell you how many others have said they are or have already donated, all fans of your e-mails! ***** told me today he wanted to help and asked where to send money and your Dad and I have made a donation to both MSF and to the world food program, and my siblings all say they are going to or already have done something

from cobie:

I am also going to have a fundraiser via a garage sale and all the proceeds will be going towards Darfur.

from kate (the poor Masters student :) :

i have zero dollars, no restaurant job to hold a fundraiser like for the tsunami and no community to ask for donations, like jayden's church, having just moved back. so, as pitiful as it might sound, i will write letters. ok? one, every day, by email to our prime minister, one by email to kofi annan and one, every couple days by mail, to the whatever he is called of sudan. i know it's not $ or food, but its what i have right now, time and outrage.

from judy (whose husband is also trying to raise awareness with my stories):

I am going to tell everyone to support MSF.

from jan:

I believe you are doing almost as much by writing about what is going in Darfur and opening our eyes (and hearts) as you are by being there. you are shifting the earth a little under our feet and making us understand that we really can and must do something

from zak:

All I can tell you in that it breaks my heart to hear the reality of what is happening there and drives me to fervent prayer for the people you are working with and for you.

from teresa (and melanie):

You and your team are in my prayers constantly. When I talk to God I tell Him that my request is for the Team in Darfur – you know, Amy Osborne – it’s the team she is working with. And on and on I go. I am sure He understands.

from jean:

I'm here if you want to dump anything now or later

from suzette:

If there is any room for those of us who are motivated to somehow send some food or medicine directly to the people there, please let us know. That's certainly what I'd like to do! (meantime, I can give to hungry people in my community in lieu of those in Darfur.) Otherwise, your previous msg. to me to contribute to MSF stands and that's where my newest charitable donation will go this year!

from melissa:

I emailed Philip Gourevitch who wrote the Rwanda book, Michael Moore, and Codepink the women's peace movement this morning about the Sudan. I noticed that Philip Gourevitch has already written one article about Darfur in the New Yorker so I am praying that this will help. I am exploring other options too, trying to find George Clooney's dad's contact info (he went to the Sudan and got written up) and some other ideas. Now I am off to buy some more food for the children of Darfur with a birthday gift. Yesterday my girlfriend got a donation through World Vision to the children of Darfur, today my friend's son is getting one. If you have any suggestions for anything that I can do that will accomplish more than just me sobbing every time I read my emails, I would get right on it- PS. I think it might be time to let GI Ames out.

from jill:

Amy, what can I do to help? Is there anything you or anybody needs out there that I can send? If I was to fundraise where could the money be sent? Each of your emails remind me of the importance of not only being aware, but more importantly how there is so much to be done in this world...and that I can do something about that. They make me realize that one person can make a difference in the world and that it’s so important to help others in whatever capacity we can

from jay:

I was planning on having a bracelet making party for Sudan tomorrow night. Keep fighting the good fight and remember there are so many who love you and support you and are praying for you!!!!! You are lifted up by the Saints and when you are too weak to even pray just rest in the prayers of those who love you around the world!

from jane doe (i'm going to keep her anonymous because it's a private email, but i love it so much i have to include it):

So I'm up at 3 in the morning thinking and talking to God about what you said......I can't go to sleep. hearing from you is changing and challenging (husbands name) and I. We both know we are made for so much more than decadent Northwest life. I've had a little pilot light burning in my heart to do missions, mostly it is kept small by my desire to have my kids actually grow up. I love being a mama, but motherhood has made me timid I'm afraid. There are no bribes or guarantees with God. What scares me nearly as much is raising children that think this is reality, that hear news and think a fleeting "oh how terrible", and never do a thing. So hearing from you has made me remember my calling and ask God when and how and that I could trust Him more with my children. Pray less for their safety and more for the heart of Jesus to burn in them. It breaks my heart hearing what's happening over there, it makes me terribly uncomfortable, and I'm thankful. I want to be unable to sleep in the middle of the night, not simply because of heartburn and #2 likes to kickbox me in the liver (6 weeks or so to go), but because there is so much brokenness in this world and Jesus is so needed and where are all the workers He's calling out, and why aren't I one of them?

from my friend's father:

Your letters make me want to become a real ambassador of Jesus, to redouble my efforts and use what is left of my life to make a difference.

from michael:

All the time I have put into raising awareness, getting petitions signed, and urging the government to take action, I can't believe that I know someone who is actually there and there to help

from a beloved friend (who recently lost her baby daughter):

Thanks for speaking to your comfortable western friends about these horrific things. Gets me out of my depression long enough to think of someone else and pray and do whatever small action I can to stand with you and them.

from dawn:

Ames, just to let you know we are praying for you - we had our annual retreat and prayed lots for you. You are in our thoughts often.

from colin:

You're opening my eyes to a world that was pretty much out of comprehension for me before.

from claire (who is flying all the way to kenya to meet me for my vacation and who asked if she could come here to help as well):

Ames. I want to be there so badly. It's making my heart ache. do you need medical supplies donated? there's been a good response for donated baby things...still want that? And money I'm getting money...what should I do with it?

from caz:

i have asked my home group to pray for you...and i have been too

from lina:

I was praying for you in the middle of the night last night when i couldn't sleep. bless your brave heart to be filled with God's love and grace and energy for each day

from aviva:

i share as much info that i can that i am learning from you.....i have looked more into doing a fundraiser and as soon as i stay in victoria for more than a week i am going to do more planning. your emails motivate me to take action.

from bethany:

you are in my thoughts and prayers and heart and yah- sometimes even my dreams. ha ha ha.

from tint:

i read this paragraph that made me think of you..."My aunt told me about a group of people in Guinea who carry the sky on their heads. They are the people of Creation. Strong, tall and mighty people who can bear anything. Their maker, she said, gives them the sky to carry because they are strong. These people do not know who they are, but if you see a lot of trouble in your life, it is because you were chosen to carry part of the sky on your head."

from mangs:

I know that you are bringing light there, you are. even though it might not feel like it, and it is
worth it. I am always praying for you. Anyway, I just wanted you to know that I started supporting msf , that IS something that I can do right now and that is something that helps me sleep at night.

from jessie:

i would give anything to fly and be with you right now. love and encouragement, joy and peace i am sending you,

from naiman (whose contribution is to make me laugh out loud every time she writes):

i'm also taking a course called Jewish responses to catastrophe. i think it'll be really easy because the response is usually "oy vey"

from two of my best friends (when i wanted to quit several weeks ago and asked for advice):

we think you should stay. What? Aaaargh! Right? And right now you're thinking, too late, I've already got my ticket to come home. Well, I think that would be ok too, just so you know. BUUUUT....if God called you over there, which you still feel He did in your heart, then that's the task before you, and all the things that are bothering you are things you and people who love you will pray for. I guess when He calls you to something, it's not always fun or pleasant, and at times you don't even feel like you can keep going. Cheesy, but that's when your love for God and your desire to let Him strengthen you through trial and your faith in His purpose for you over there has to kick in. Essentially, we feel your pain, and worry and pray for you, but we stick to my incredibly sage advice (lol) from before (did I really say that? I don't even remember it, but it's true) that you have to stay until you feel strongly called home. And with my vast psycho-analytical experience, I don't think you feel called home. I think you're just having a hell-ish time and you're exhausted beyond belief. To sum up, God called you there to serve Him. If He wants you to do this, ask for His help in all the ways you need it. Remember, BE SPECIFIC! And ask for a peace in your heart to come home when He wants you to.

from ryanne:

I have also passed your emails on to many people who have all responded....unusual, I don't always get responses.. Mom's who are praying for you, friends who ask what can we do? Some people who were truly in the dark about Darfur and have been inspired to find out more

from milena the atheist:


from mike and mandy:

You're in our thoughts and prayers. We pray that God guides your hands as you teach other midwives, catch babies & comfort and befriend other women.

from phil:

you are in my prayers...hang in there

from rachel:

Do you remember when we were in Squamish somewhere - You and I were walking along a one-lane road with a huge curve in it and we heard vehicles quickly approaching from both directions and it seemed a crash was inevitable. My first reaction was to close my eyes and look away and your first instinct was to jump into the middle of the road and hold up your hands hoping to attract the drivers' attentions before they collided into one another. I am always reminded of that day when I read about what you are doing places like Afghanistan and Sudan. You are jumping into the middle of the danger, holding out your hands and offering whatever help you can give

from jenn aka granola:

You have a responsibility to share what you are experiencing with everyone who can't experience it for whichever reasons. Please just promise me you'll feed the midwife so she can feed the women, don't starve the midwife.... be well. and sleep whatever it takes. sleep. if you have to break free and dig a hidden cave where no one knows, go there and sleep! I love you and miss you and want you to be full.

from hooles:

your stories spring tears to my eyes every time... I pray for your heart to be held in GREAT hands, loved, nourished and protected. You call us all to give more, to be more noble and to open our eyes.

from mayan:

You remind me of the ground i walk on and what it is to be a diligent, humble servant. I know that what compels you to go to the places you go and do the things you do is an awesome thing. I am so grateful you are in the world, and sometimes even in my personal world.
what can other people do to help?

from tanya:

I don't have much to say but want you to know that I'm thinking and praying for you.

from kate gem:

We all remember you in our prayers

from kathryn:

Continue......have faith in who you are, what you do, no matter what it is

from lindsey:

I am so grateful though that those women have you - they need a person to love and protect them and be an advocate for them. some days it's painful to hear the stories because a part of me demands to be there with you but is locked into this life of motherhood here and the other part of me is grateful for the excuse to not be there. i love you, I'm so proud of you, I'm inspired by you, and I cry and laugh with you.

from Christian:

I hope you find both increased faith and a sense of accomplishment for doing something that many people are too scared to do. I wish you health, safety and stubbornness.

from grubb:

I've been praying for you lots - and for the people there. I'm praying for the pregnant woman you told about who will deliver 'early'. Anyway I really appreciate having your list to pray over... many of these things I've already been praying for just by reading your emails. Oh and I'm already planning your next Africa trip for you, haha. I'm sure you don't want to think about it, so just leave it to me. :) Want to go to Liberia next year?

from efrat:

i just wanted to let you know that I miss you and love you, and hope that you are being as safe as you can. Please be careful from all the jackasses out there, and come home safely but when you are ready to.

Yaron and Adi: offered for me to come stay with them during my vacation time, to swim in a pool, sleep with air conditioning and have them feed me bamba till I burst J mmmm, bamba……..

and that, my beloved family and friends, is all. many of you have written sweet, beautiful, encouraging things to me and if they aren’t included in here it is because I didn’t want this email to be about me- I tried to choose the quotes that showed what you are doing, what you have done and how you have been affected. I included some of the ones about me simply because they were quotes that gave me strength, faith and courage when I needed those things in order to stay here. your contribution was to give the people here a midwife who could train them and who could continue to bear witness.
in response to your emails and to the qualities you have mistakenly attributed to me…. I ask you to know that if there is anything good that I have done here, it’s not of me as I am merely a flawed human being. anything good that comes of this trip is of God. anything good in me is of God.
much love and blessings,


Tuesday, September 05, 2006

home for my birthday!!!!!

i just set my return date and i should be arriving home on my birthday!!!(october 18th for you ignorami :) i was going to get home november 1st, but the idea of being home for my (and kate's) birthday was just too nice to pass up (family dinner!!!). plus, i feel like my work here is coming to an end. my staff get better and better every day and i have started to be around the WHC less in order to make them depend less on the presence of an expat- they take much more initiative when i'm not there to make all of the decisions for them. i feel like i can leave in october and know that the women's health centre is going to remain fantabulous. not that this means
it's going to be easy to leave- it won't be. my emotional attachments here are going to make it such that it's never going to feel like a good time to leave- especially knowing what i am leaving them to. knowing that, i just had to set a date and i will deal with it when i always deal with things(one day in the distant future in therapy :) my earlier leaving date also has something to do with the U.N. troops. i don't want to be here much in october as the A.U. will be gone, the U.N. will be under pressure to set a date to deploy and i don't want to be anywhere near this country when they set a date. plus, if they set a date for october or november, we would be evacuated anyways.
i just calculated that i only have 22 days left in habillah. i leave for my
holiday on the 14th and i get back on the 28th (flight schedules make it so that i'm on holidays for 5 days and i'm sitting in el geneina or khartoum waiting for flights for over a week), then i leave here october 9th. what an odd feeling to finally settle into a life so different from your own and then leave it to go back to what you're used to.
alright, time to get back to my ipod (aka my lifeline)

Sudan launches new offensive

please e-mail me (Amy's mother) at lura if you wish to read this e-mail and if I don't know you please tell me how you know Amy... I'm sorry to sound so dramatic but there is too much at stake here to take any chances... :) L

Friday, September 01, 2006

Amy's Wishes

i think a lot of you are nervous to use or forward my emails after i wrote about being self-conscious- which is entirely my fault. i just wanted to let you know that at this point you can forward them to anyone on the planet (who doesn't live in sudan or have any connections here) and encourage them to send them on as well if you think it will raise awareness of what is happening here. we need everyone on board right now. every person we know and every person they know and so on and so on. also, if you want information on how you can help financially (like i said, every dollar counts) please go to my blog and you will find some links on how to donate specific things to the children in darfur. thank you my family and friends (and their families and friends).