6/25/2007 Goz Beida Refugee Camp, Chad
The last time I saw Abdulla Idris Zaid he was lying in Goz Beida hospital, his eyes having been gouged out by Janjaweed knives. It was November 2006. That was the week Arab militia from Sudan had joined with local Arab tribes to attack and burn 60 non-Arab villages. The dead and wounded had not yet been counted but there were many. Wherever I went, I saw survivors clustered under trees, dazed, grieving and terrified. Mostly they were women and children.
Mr Idris Zaid is 27 years old. He has an adorable two year old son, Yazin and a daughter, Boushra, aged 4 who gently offers her father a cup of water and leads him into their hut. The family now lives in an IDP camp, Gouroukoum, not far from Goz Beida. Abdullah’s father asked me if anyone in the international community has a skill that can replace his son’s eyes. I had to tell him there is nothing that can be done. I know because I have had two daughters without eyes. Eyes are not replaceable. I am so very sorry.
Abdullah told me,
“I used to be a farmer and I had animals. They attacked my village of Marmadanga and destroyed everything. They came at 10 am on horses and camels. Some were on foot. They had Kalashnikov rifles and rocket-propelled grenades. We had nothing to defend ourselves with. They killed 90 people including 17 women and children. About 60 were injured. The women who could not run so fast were captured. The Arabs did whatever they wanted to them.
We fled into the bushes and hid. That night we returned to see who was dead. We were not able to take the dead or the injured. There was no way to carry them; they had destroyed everything. We fled to Kolloy (another village some distance away) But then they attacked Kolloy.
They shot me as I ran. Then they chased me with horses. I fell and they beat me and drove a knife into my eyes. They left me for dead.
The attackers were Arabs from Darfur. When they attack they say, ‘We don’t want you black people here.”
Before this I used to farm. I used to go the bushes and cut wood to support my family. Now I cannot do anything. I am not able to work. And we are not safe here."
^^ The bottles one is regular bottled water on the right (mine) the bottle on the left is the water the children are drinking in the town of Kerfi. Not far from Goz Beida.
Yet the children of Gouroukoun are playing and laughing. They think my skin is funny, some touch my arm and feel my hair. I gave a small mirror attached to a powder compact to a group of women. Shyly and amidst gales of laughter they took turns looking at themselves. Some just stared in silence into their own image. They wanted to know what the powder is for. Of course here, where even the most basic essentials are in short supply, that powder is not only useless but I was too ashamed to even attempt to describe how I or anyone else might use it.