by Garelnabi Abusikin Abbas
I am a refugee from Darfur, living in Philadelphia and working as a taxi driver. My mother, sister, brother and aunt are still in refugee camps in Chad. In September 2007, I journeyed back to the region with a fellow Darfuri refugee. We packed our two cars with clothing and goods that people in the United States had donated. Our first stop was Iridimi camp, one of the largest in eastern Chad. My mother lives there.
After my arrival, my mother walked right past me with a group of women, but I didn't even recognize her because she looked so much older than she did when I left her in 2002. My mom has been looking after 17 children-orphans whose parents are dead or lost. She works all day to prepare food and gather water for the kids and keep them clean. Seeing her life there made me very sad. I cried a lot, and so did my friend.
At all the camps we visited, my friend and I talked with people of all ages and heard the same requests: first they ask for more food, then clothing and then education. We met hundreds of people, many of them children who do not have many family members left. They talked of the Janjawid "evil horsemen", a term used to refer to government-allied militias] and government troops killing their fathers, brothers and uncles, leaving their mothers to have to go off to find work.
Before I left Iridimi, I promised my mother that my mission to tell the story of what is happening in Darfur would not end until the violence stops. I thank Amnesty International for telling the world about Darfur, for helping me to tell my story so that more people will know what is happening and act to stop the mass killings. When I told my family and other people in the camps what AI had done to help me and to help them, they were grateful to know that people in the outside world cared enough to work on their behalf.
Like my mother said, we can't stop until what is happening in Darfur ends. Please don't turn away. Without us, my family, my friend's family and millions of Darfuris will be without hope. By telling their story and taking action, we bring them hope and push for change. Because of the international outcry, a United Nations- African Union peacekeeping force is going to Darfur and a United Nations-European Union force is going to eastern Chad.
Please continue to support our mission to end the killing in Darfur. Thank you for the difference you have helped make so far.