The day has finally come! After many months of planning, writing proposals, applying for grants, and praying we are headed to the airport! My fiancé Liasor Dima, his mom Rumthus, and I are off to Doro Refugee Camp (on the border of South Sudan and Ethiopia) for 10 weeks!
Our trip has a couple goals. First, and most personal, we are visiting Liasor's extended family living in Doro. It's been over 16 years since Liasor's mom has been back to the region, so this will prove to be an emotional time. Anyone who knows Liasor's story and that of his family knows how special this time will be. Personally, I am so excited to meet more of Liasor's family who will soon be my own. :)
For the second goal of the trip, Liasor and I are conducting a project which is connected to my Master's thesis and to a non-governmental organization (called Uduk Hope Inc.) that Liasor is currently running. Uduk Hope Inc. was started by community members in Rochester, NY who have loved ones living in Doro Refugee Camp, as a way to offer support to their family and friends. We want to help Uduk Hope determine the best way to offer that support. Thus, this trip is not a humanitarian aid trip, but rather an exploratory trip in which we are seeking to better understand the context and the conditions in the camp. We will be speaking to representatives of the 13 different organizations in the camp, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, World Food Programme, and Samaritan's Purse, to inquire about how Uduk Hope Inc. can be of any support. We will also be speaking to many of the people living in Doro Camp to better understand their perceptions of the services provided to them and to elicit their ideas on how to improve things. Our hope is to synthesize all of these conversations into a strategic plan of intervention for Uduk Hope Inc. At the end of the trip, we want to be able to pinpoint the exact ways in which Uduk Hope can be of assistance, potentially through partnering with one or more of the organizations or initiatives already there. Additionally, we raised funds to distribute food supplies to people in Doro during two big celebrations in the camp. Thank you for everyone who helped us raise support for food distribution!
Please keep us and the people of Doro in your thoughts and prayers!
We have an 11 hour flight to reach East Africa. Our first stop is Cairo, Egypt where we will be spending the night before continuing on to Juba, South Sudan. I arranged for us to have a fun tour of Cairo during our long layover there. Then once we get to Juba, we'll be taking a United Nations flight to Doro Refugee Camp. We're praying that all goes well at every stage of our trip.
I'm so excited and nervous and can't wait to share our journey with my family and friends through this blog. One of my personal goals is to learn more of Liasor's first language (T'wampa) and to pick up some Arabic as well, God willing. I'll let you all know how that goes. :)
I'll try to update my blog regularly once I figure out our internet access in Doro. Check back here for more information and thank you for the prayers.
To learn more about Uduk Hope Inc. please visit http://www.udukhope.com