Prufrock's Page

Friday, December 22, 2006

Monica In Uganda

On the last day I return to Amida camp to see Geoffrey [Oxfam's public health facilitator]. The camp is in festive spirit. There has been a peace march that day and now there is dancing and drumming, a certain amount of home brew and a great deal of singing. Geoffrey has arranged a special song for us with his child-to-child public health crew. 'We welcome you dear visitors,' they sing, 'in Jesus’ name.' They sing with harmonies, and beautifully.

Geoffrey walks me to the car. 'Enjoy your evening,'

I say. 'Enjoy the party.' 'Tell the world about us,' says Geoffrey. 'Tell them what you saw.'

I say that I will; that I'll try. And then he says something I haven't heard for a long time. It's something I used to hear when I was young, but which has fallen out of favour now that we've become so anxious to 'respect' or guard our differences. 'Speak for us,' says Geoffrey, staking a claim for our common humanity. 'We are different colours, but we are just the same.'

- From Monica Ali's "letter" from the refugee camps of northern Uganda, where she travelled at Oxfam's invitation.


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