Rev. Daughtry's weekly article that appears in the NY Daily Challenge every Wednesday and Friday.

Press Statement Upon Return From Chad, Africa Part II

I came away with these impressions:

The crisis in the refugee camp is as bad as or worst than had been reported. We saw and spoke to women who were fighting over water. Due to a limited underground water supply, there was a four-gallon per person ration, which is not nearly enough. We witnessed deformed, malnourished children without clothes or shoes. I picked up a naked baby and dressed him with one of our tee shirts. We saw children with sores and blisters on their little bodies fighting over tee shirts we had brought to the camp. We saw woefully inadequate, desperately needed medical service, a small makeshift hospital, a donkey driven, manual made cart for an ambulance and women being rushed to Abeche because of the absence of medicine and service.

We saw huts of mud and straw and old canvases which were supposed to house the people and scores of refugees still pouring in putting more demands upon food, water and housing and resources which are already in short supply or nonexistent.

Gaga is representative of all the camps. It is estimated there are close to 400,000 refugees and displaced persons in the refugee camps.

We saw tattered clad, half naked adults, the elderly with diseased, twisted bodies, the epitome of pain and despair, with gaunt dazed looks, yet smiling and reaching out to touch our extended hands.

Yes, there were laughter and smiles from the children too. Children will always be imaginative and find games to play. One little fellow, about three or four, I playfully chased around the hot sand of his mud and straw hut. Another lad of about seven or eight gave me three pieces of paper money he had made.

They followed us all across the camp. They lined up for us to touch them. Departing, I stood on the seat, of our SUV, raised my body through the sunroof. I started chanting affirmations. “Be strong.” “Be brave.” In voices that reverberated up and down the hills and valleys of the camp, they repeated the chant. “Be good,” I shouted. “Be good,” they shouted back. “Be smart” “Be Smart,” finally, I said, “I love you.” Then louder than ever, they screamed back. “I love you.” Their faces were beaming and their bodies were joyfully gyrating.

We heard stories of cruelty that would disgrace a nation of savages. Women told us loved ones killed and brutalized before their eyes; children smashed and thrown into the fire. Females as young as ten, taken from the village and raped, some of them never return; villages destroyed, land taken, and always, a vivid description of how it happened. First airplanes come dropping bombs. Then the military vehicles with big guns on them, the horse and camel riders come in and burn and loot and kill and rape and destroy and steal their land.

Some of them, mostly women and youth, managed to escape. One woman told us she, with her four children, walked seven days to reach this camp.

These stories of horror were repeated in the Bush, as we talked to rebel leaders and their soldiers. I asked young soldiers why were they fighting? Invariably the answer was the same. A recitation of atrocities inflicted upon loved ones determination to secure justice and freedom. We were told if the young men stayed in the camp, they would be beaten, killed or kidnapped. Also the rebel leaders made it clear, taking up arms was the last thing they wanted to do. But they felt they had no choice. All their pleas for mercy, justice and assistance fell on deaf ears. They wished that a solution could be found. They would willingly lay down their arms tomorrow.

To be continuedSave the date Dar-fur Benefit

May 5, 2007 - 7-10 p.m.
At Medgar Evers College
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Organizing Meeting on Dar-fur
Each Thursday, noon to two p.m.
At The House of the Lord Church, 415 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY