Journal of the People’s Pastor

“Writing The History I’ve Lived, Living The History I Write!”

DARFUR DIARY

Darfur Diary: Part VI – My Journey To Chad, Central Africa
Bogged Down In Bureaucracy



Friday, March 23, 2007 (Part A)

After staying up till 3:00am Chad time, I finished my journal entry. I was up at 5:15am. Yahya was up at 5:30am. Muhammad came to my room. I greeted him, “Good morning my #1 nephew.” He smiled. We decided to film the inside of the hotel. Around 6:30am a group of men traditionally dressed came to my room.

As always, the men greeted each other with embrace, handshakes and the face-to-face exercise. Aasalama Aleikum, IL Hamdu-Allah, I always engaged in the physical exercise and mumbled and whispered peace, Aasalama Aleikum. It seems that everybody, or maybe just the men, love to group, gab and gobble. They can sit for hours, talking and eating or sipping tea. Intermittently, this can go on for a whole day in some places.

I was getting anxious. I was eager to get to the camp and do the interviews with the rebel leaders. It seemed we were not moving forward to fulfill our appointments. As it turned out, we were late. The governor was gone when we arrived at his office. It takes some time to get used to how underdeveloped Abecha is. Even the most prestige’s persons dwell and work in the humblest of places.

For the rest of the day, it was a frenzy of movements and meetings. We had to secure a flight back to N’djamena in time for our flight back to New York before we could leave for the refugee camps. This required the signing of papers by the Interior Minister, the governor of the area, National Secretary for Refugees and the secret police.

First, we were to be at the Governor's office at 7am. We arrived at 7:30. He was gone. Then we went to the office of the secret police. We ended up at the airport. Both police and reservation are supposed to be at the airport. We arrived at 8:15am. Then I was told there is only one seat. Then we waited for, I am not sure, what. I guess for more seats. Why all of this couldn’t have been done by telephone, I know not.

As we drove through the dirty streets, it was becoming difficult to see for the dust. Even the youths played soccer in dust that was so thick, at times you could barely see them, especially as the evening crepe upon the city. There was the feeling of nervous tension, as solders seemed to be everywhere. They seemed more intense in there observations. Their weapons were in readiness. I learned later, that one of the rebel groups had decided to return to their military base in Sudan. The Sudanese government was informed thus the bombing. They struck to cities near Abecha. That was the reason the president was in the area and it was hard to locate the governor.

Now we decided to drive to the governor’s office, which is in the UNHCR’s office complex. I waited outside. They returned with a paper that needed to be signed. We went looking for the security officer. We stopped for more gas and talk. We located the security office in the market place. There was a long discussion. Meanwhile, as we traveled, I was told Air France has booked us tonight and tomorrow night.

It was now 10:15am. I was told we had secured only one seat. Now back to the airport and more scurrying to and fro, and talking to more people. As we sat in the airport, Yahya spied a solder he knew. As it turned out, this solder was in charge of airport security. They walked across the airfield to a huge transport plane. Yahya returned with a big smile on his face. He said, “We have secured one seat on the transport plane. We would have to wait 3 hours until the pilot of the helicopter returned with the wounded from the bombing. Again, the tension was palpable. The runway had planes in readiness, which is humanitarian planes. These planes were now in readiness in case the war expanded and there was need to transport more wounded. This is the reason seats were difficult to come by.

After pushing our car to get it started, we returned to the hotel. There is a problem with the starter in the car. Whenever we stopped we had to disembark and push. Because it is a diesel it doesn’t require much motion to start.

After several hours, we returned to the airport. Obviously, it was not enough time to visit the refugee camps, nor to talk to rebel leaders. When we got to the airport we discovered they had room for 3 in the transport plane.

It was the first time I had ridden in a transport plane. The plane was huge inside and dirty. But it had fewer seats than the smaller plane we had taken on Wednesday. The ride was smooth and swifter. We arrived in N’djamena in 11⁄2 hours. The smaller plane takes almost 21⁄2 hours.

Back at the Novella Hotel, I called my daughter in Augusta, Georgia, to give her my flight time and to secure plane reservations to Augusta. I would be returning to New York on a Monday morning. I had decided since we didn’t get to the camps nor talk to the rebel leaders, nor meet with President Deby, I would return Monday night.

Yahya went to check on our flight. I didn’t hear from him anymore until 1:00am. The departure time was 11:30pm. I was furious. I had missed my flight, I thought. When he returned, he was exhausted. He said he had been at the airport 3 hours. The airplane had overbooked. The plane seats 28, they had booked 125. The only people they were letting on the plane were whites. The Chadians were angry. They refused to let the airline pilots through the gate. So the flight never departed.

It meant I would miss my church’s National Holy Pilgrimage to Georgia for the first time. It was a frustrating helpless feeling. I was comforted, however, in the knowledge that I was on a super important mission and my not getting to Georgia was no fault of mine. I returned to my room, whispering to myself, a verse that I quote often, especially in times of disappointment. “For we know that in all things God will work for good to them that love God, and to them that are the called according to His purpose.

Waleed had given me the videos of our travel. So, I watched our doings till I feel asleep.

Upcoming Events

Attend the Timbuktu Learning Center’s weekly Thursday Night Community Forums. All Forums are held at the House of the Lord Church from 7pm to 9pm.

Join Operation Life Line if you need assistance or know someone who needs assistance with their mortgages as it relates to foreclosures, predatory lending and/or subprime lending.

Attend NRLAA’s monthly forum Focus on Africa the 2nd Saturday from 2pm to 4pm.

Organizing Meetings regarding Darfur every Thursday - 12noon @ the House of the Lord Church
Keep abreast of our Darfurian activities by checking our web page @ HYPERLINK "http://www.holnj.org" www.holnj.org.

On Sunday, June 1, 2008' 8am & 12noon worship experience – Rev. Dr. Herbert Daughtry’s sermon will focus on his 50 years of ministry and will e entitled “Reflections on my life an Ministry.” All are invited.

On Sunday, June 8, 2008, Rev. Leah Daughtry, Pastor of the House of the Lord Church in Washington, DC and CEO of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado will be the guest preacher at the 12 noon Worship Service at the House of the Lord Church, located at 415 Atlantic Avenue.

On June 19–20, 2008, in honor of Juneteenth, The Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance (DBNA) will host its Annual Emancipation Day Celebration. At 12noon on the 20th there will be an Unveiling & Dedication of a Plaque marking the stop on the Underground Railroad at the Old Bridge Street Church, which served as a safe house for runner away slaves. Many invited guest speakers. A Luncheon (invitation only) will follow with Dr. Adelaide Sanford as the keynote speaker. At 7pm, there will be a musical concert, free to the public, at the House of the Lord Church featuring The House of the Lord Anointed Voices, the renowned singer, Minister Lawrence Craig, Bishop Nathaniel Townsley & The Gospel Jubilee and many others. Dinner will start at 5pm (No cost with reservation). Contact Peggy Iman Washington, the Program Coordinator, @ (718) 596-1991 or (718) 797-2184.

On Saturday, June 28, 2008 at 2pm the 30th Annual Randolph Evans Memorial Scholarship Awards Ceremony and Reception will be held at the House of the Lord Church. Congresswoman Yvette Clarke will be the keynote speaker.

On Sunday June 29, 2008, Rev. Dawnique Daughtry-Pemberton, Pastor of the House of the Lord Church of Bergen County in Englewood, NJ will be the guest preacher at the 12 noon Worship Service at the House of the Lord Church, located at 415 Atlantic Avenue

NEED QUALITY CHILD CARE? – Call the Alonzo A. Daughtry Memorial Daycare Center Located at 333 Second Street, (Between 4th & 5th Avenues) downtown Brooklyn, NY @ (718) 499-2066. Immediate openings in a state of the arts center.