I spent yesterday in a place called Gaga Camp, in eastern
I brought with me a special package for one of the camp’s residents, care of the Washington Post’s
About a year ago, Stephanie wrote a terrific profile of a man named Azhari Ali. Before fleeing
You can see Stephanie’s story here:
Soon after that piece appeared about a year ago, IMC received calls from people wanting to send books to Azhari - the parents of one IMC staff member even paid to send them. Stephanie too heard from numerous readers moved by the story. Compelled herself to help him in some way, she put together a package of books, magazines, notebooks, pens, batteries for me to take to him.
Azhari had been working as a translator for IMC when Stephanie met him. As a way to keep his mind sharp, he was attending relief agency meetings and educating himself on various health campaigns. He is now a community educator for IMC, helping with HIV, nutrition and hygiene education campaigns in the camp.
When I first arrive at Gaga camp and step into the tent to meet him, he is finishing up a training of other community educators. He is a quiet, dignified, solicitous man of 45 – just a few years from the average life expectancy in Sudan. I explain that I have something for him. When I pull out the materials he seems a bit confused, perhaps surprised that anyone would do this for him.
We chat a bit – he is taciturn but his English is excellent. He expresses his gratitude for Stephanie’s gift, and says he is happy once again to be working and productive.
One of IMC’s doctors in the camp, Ibrahim Cisse, says to me: “IMC is lucky to have found someone with such a high level of education to help organize the health community. We cannot succeed here without strong community participation and without health workers like him.”
Refugee camps are filled with people like Azhari - people who had lives, loved ones, professions and aspirations before chaos ensued. All of them are trying to recover what they once had.
Azhari tells me it’s the education and training of others that is so crucial. “This is the most important thing, for our future, wherever we are.”