Happy Friday. Today, June 20, 2008 International Refugee Day. Again, another life changing experience to tell. Our students were invited by the UNHCR to participate in the day with either a song, poem, dramatization, etc. This year's theme: Protection, Safety, Dignity, Hope. We spent one evening discussing what it means to be a refugee, what it means to seek protection ans safety and lose dignity and hope. In these initial moments we came up with our chant:
What do we want? Protection
What do we need? Safety
What did we lose? Dignity
What do we have?Hope
They also wrote and prepared a song and a dramatization of a family forced to flee all they had due to war. They each wrote essay's about living their lives as refugees or about friends and family that had been forced to live in camps. Incredibly moving and heartwrenching. We built them up. They were so excited to perform in Freedom Square infront of a crowd of people. But of course nothing seems to go smoothly here. How were we going to get our girls into town? Our school is located 8 miles out of town, beyond the level 3 emergency level set by the UN. They would not provide us transportation. The girls were devestated. Lauren, Megan, Deana and I couldn't do this to them. Lauren and I went to an organization and pleaded with them to rent us a 3 ton tipper truck. They were very willing but it would take some more planning. At 6 am we waited a the gate to drive out to the school and load the back of it with 45 girls and 5 teachers!!
They piled in and when I say piled in I mean piled in. They were singing and laughing and so ready to perform. Lauren and I followed behind in the Land Cruiser to make sure no one fell off Thankfully all were safe less than a few girls vommitting off the side. I CANNOT describe the condition of the road we travel on. We got them to the meeting spot on time and they marched to Freedom Square. Can I say I felt proud?? In their orange shirts, carrying signs they made that said NEW SUDAN EDUCATION INTIATIVE-Building Peace Through Education and holding the New Sudan Flag. They were scheduled to perform at 12:00 and at 12:30 they took the stage. I could barely hold back the tears. They were beautiful, strong and screaming, "WE ARE FROM NESEI SCHOOL. WE ARE BUILDING PEACE THROUGH EDUCATION."