The wind blows the winter dust in a desert storm.
Through the dusty blizzard people are bundled in their best garments.
Covered from head to toe in white robes and vivid dresses.
The kids pull their livestock as they usually do,
But this time excited, for the feast and days of celebrations to come.
Everyone seems to be working away preparing and sharing.
It is a time to forget about differences, and appreciate similarities.
The earth shakes with "excitement" (and a little artillery).
Slaughter the fattened cow! Put on your white jalabia!
It's Christmas in Darfur… Actually Eid.
Eid S'Eid and Peace on earth… Well, not quite.
The Muslim holiday Season is Eid, which celebrates the end of Ramadan- the month of fasting and sacrifice. Sadly, many families will have fasting and sacrifice before the next Ramadan because of the challenges faced in Sudan. One challenge takes place in a little community near Habilla, where MSF has been operating a hospital. For this community, their village was burnt to the ground after a fire used for cooking got out of control. The fire left 40 families without a village for Eid celebrations on December 24th.
Though Santa Clause does not celebrate Eid, Santa-Serge does. Serge is an MSF field co coordinator, logicistician, and now Santa. He and his team in Habilla loaded up the red and white MSF semi-rig and bumbled around the desert land delivering emergency supplies to all the boys and girls. Some of the displaced families were welcomed into the homes of the Habilla residents- Santa-Serge delivered supplies to them as well. The image of the this humanitarian sled grinding through the dried riverbeds providing basic living supplies to people in need is the true holiday spirit.
Eid is also celebrated by preparing huge amounts of food: For family, friends, and the poor. People seemed to have established a sense of normalcy though living in insecurity and chaos. I have a strong appreciation for the Sudanese culture of people who can step out of a situation seen as pitiful by the rest of the world, and celebrate who they really are. Laughing, sharing stories and news with family, then sitting and eating very tasty food.
I spent Eid with a Sudanese co-worker and friend named Tiger. This Eid celebration resembled how I am used to spending my holidays: People together, good food, and tones of kids running around, climbing on what ever they could find. These kids played games- seeing them run around with plastic Kalashnikovs acting out life in Darfur was cute…I know, in Canada such behavior would be unacceptable and sad. I guess it's debatable what should be considered normalcy vs. maladaptive… I'll let someone more academic figure that one out.
I was not able spend Christmas in Seleia because of security reasons. Since being evacuated a few weeks ago, the only interaction I have had with my Seleia friends is translated and transmiteed through a fuzzy hi-frequency radio. Though leaving Seleia is the only acceptable option, I feel I have abandoned my friends in their time of most need. Apparently they are doing okay. I hope to return soon. I left a puppy named Clemens behind who I recruited to kill snakes and rodents. I was not able to leave instructions on taking care of him: It felt wrong leaving instructions for care of a dog taking into consideration the resources of food, and security situation for humans. I am now down to 2 pairs of underwear from another rushed packing job. Problems in Darfur are all relative.
Adris, One of the MSF guards here in El Genena speaks excellent English. He told me about being displaced from his community three years ago. It took his community 3 days to get to El Genena- 75 people died. Again, it's all relative.