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...

Friday, October 20, 2006


wow, i can't believe i'm really home. it still hasn't sunk in, that's for sure. the last week has ranged from fantastic to horrific as far as debriefing and re-entering the civilized world. i flew out of sudan on thursday night and spent the night on the plane talking to a man who is working for the A.U. he told me stories that made me nauseous- things he has seen happening in darfur, things he has realized about the A.U. and their presence in darfur. he said that their purpose there seems to be to stand by and watch the attacks happen, occasionally joining in on the rapes. it seems like things just can't get worse, yet they keep getting worse. the stewardess asked us what we had been doing in sudan and we told her we were in darfur. she offered to get us very drunk but i decided against it. there isn't enough alcohol in the world to help me forget the things i've seen and the stories i've heard. i arrived in geneva on friday at noon and started my debriefing. one funny part was that i was scheduled to speak to a therapist, which i had assumed would happen because i had been told by monica that with msf-spain, anyone leaving darfur or somalia had mandatory counseling. later when milena joined me in geneva for the weekend i said something like "when you were talking to the therapist..." and she said "what therapist? i didn't talk to a therapist". we decide that maybe it's because her debriefing had been so rushed. then gustavo joined us and i asked him if he had had to talk to a therapist and he said no. i say, am i the only one who had to? why? and gustavo says "because you put your feelings on the internet". ah. so the debriefing was fine, as far as official debriefing goes, but it was the unofficial debriefing that did me the most good. like i said before, it is talking to the people you were on the field with that helps the most- they are the ones that understand. and had i been given the choice of who i would want to spend time with, talking about my experience, i would have chosen milena, gustavo, aurelie (remember the french girl from my first week in darfur?) and monica. thankfully God worked it out so that i crossed paths in geneva with 3 of those 4 (i missed monica by a few hours). it RULED. milena came to spend saturday and sunday with me, and we basically just walked around, talked and ate. i was averaging 3 milkshakes a day, which is possibly why i got the disappointing news at my medical checkup that i had regained most of the weight i had lost :) on sunday night gustavo finally arrived (after missing a connecting flight that cost him another couple of flights) and we spent the night with him, then i got to hang out with him monday during the day. then on monday night i went to aurelie's for dinner and slept there. as we were about to get on the train she asks me if i have my passport with me. i say yes, why? and she tells me that we're going to france. right, france. between the indian food, the wine, the beautiful baby girl and the company, that was my best night. i could have happily done that for a week. the next day i flew to toronto on a flight that was a comedy of errors. first we sat on the runway for 2 hours while they checked a "dent in our fuselage" (not that i didn't want them to check it. no one wants a dent in their fuselage when they are flying over oceans, no matter how impatient they are to touch canadian soil). then when we were approaching toronto we were told that a plane in their airport had hit a bird, so the takeoffs and landings were all behind schedule and after sitting on the runway for two hours we didn't have enough fuel to wait so we were going to land in montreal. excellent. basically this all leads to my 7 hour and 40 minute flight becoming a more than 12 hour flight, which was fanstastic because it gave me so much extra time to sit next to the psycho beside me. the guy beside me clearly had no knowledge of airplane etiquette at all, as he spent almost the entire flight facing me and sighing deeply. this might not have been as bad as it was if his breath hadn't smelled like carcass. then there was the 4 times that he turned off my tv screen. i kid you not, he actually reached across me and turned off my screen 4 times until i hit him. my sister reminded me that you're not allowed to hit strangers, but i reminded her that you aren't allowed to turn off other people's television screens when they are trying to watch a movie either. i didn't hit him hard- he was more surprised than hurt. i finally arrive in toronto and i am exhausted and annoyed. then i go through immigration and it just gets worse. the two women that i spoke to both asked me if i had been in darfur "on vacation". all i can do is repeat "are you SERIOUS?". neither of them had any idea what is happening there. i was torn between a desire to either burst into tears or start punching holes in the walls. unless you are amish and don't have a television, there is NO excuse for not knowing what is happening there right now. they seemed a bit embarrassed by my reaction. good. i go to get my bags and i stand there and wait until the very last bag comes out and mine isn't there. everyone else has taken their bags and left and i am standing there, alone, watching to see if there are any more bags coming. as i am walking over to tell someone that my bag didn't arrive i see that my bag is in the area with the oversize bags. i sigh, pick it up and finally get a taxi.

so my night in toronto with arin was dramatically reduced in time. instead of arriving at 5, i got out of the airport at eleven. by the time i got to her house, it was midnight and we had to stay up till after 3:30am talking to make up for lost time. the next morning she hit the alarm and missed class, which is apparently the first time she has missed a class this semester. apparently when you're in law school you stop skipping classes (i wonder if the same goes for medical school?). i would feel badly about being a bad influence on her, but really, if it ever came down to comparing who was a worse influence on who, arin would win hands down and the scarring on my liver can prove it. that day was my birthday and i spent it debriefing with msf canada, then flying home. kate, my best friend whose birthday is the day after mine, decided to share her birthday with me, so yesterday was my unofficial birthday. i haven't done much more than hibernate, nor do i have much desire to do much more than that. i'm sticking around for a party on sunday then it's off to oregon to hide in a beach house. more later...


Blogger Beth B said...

I am praying for the Darfur people and that God will protect them.
It is so wrong what is hapening over there.It tears my heart out to look at pictures from there. So many many lives lost.

6:53 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home