Darfur: The Villages  

Posted by Michael

**There are updated pic's posted below**
I wasn't able to post these pic's before we headed to the villages (Day 10):

This picture says, "You mess with me and you'll have a 40lb drill bit coming at you with your name written all over it, courtesy of Michael Bleecker":

Laughing Cow cheese, cinnamon honey peanut butter, electrolyte water and teenage mutant ninja turtle crackers. A meal in Darfur:

Faces of children in El Fasher:

Days 11-13 (The Villages):
As we headed out to the villages, we passed Abu Shouk, an IDP camp on the road out of El Fasher:

This was my last pic for a while on the trip. You can't see it, but at the base of the hill on the left is a checkpoint with 20-30 men with machine guns and RPG's. Our driver told me to quickly put away the camera at this point:

Our water pipes shifted 5mi out of town and bent our frame:

The road less traveled(This is a sorghum field we are driving through. They use this to make Asida, an arab dish you eat with your hands that has the consistency of play-dough. We ate this in the village):

It was 1st Century out there:

The truck in front of us got stuck, so we got out to help them:

Then we got stuck and they helped us:

Then our other truck got stuck trying to pull us out and after we got that out,we helped another truck that was stuck. Between our two trucks, we were stuck 7 times in the 4 hours we were in that spot:

This truck had 20-30 live chickens tied to a stick in the back.

Cranking his truck to start it:

Notice the lady in the background getting water:

2 faces I loved during our 4 hours in the mud:

Um Layuna Village:

We drove up to Um Layuna and were overwhelmed. It was amazing and tragic all at the same time. They're just so poor, yet seem so rich. It's so humbling. Some of the kids in the villages that we visited had never seen "hiwajas" (white people) before. They just stared. Some of them ran away scared when we rolled down the windows and waved. It was so crazy to think about the fact that we were the first white people that some of these kids had ever seen. Our contact here told us that during one of his trips to this village, he found a girl shackled in her house. Apparently, she wanted to go to the university and her father wanted her to stay at the village and marry a boy from there. So he chained her up. The guys that were with us talked to the father and told him to let her go. The father eventually did. We were able to meet the girl when we stopped in to stay the night. She was beautiful:

It's unbelievable that something like that happened to her; that something like that is happening in our time.
Her sisters:

This was our dinner that first night:

We stayed inside the village the night before last and it was the loudest cachophony of sounds any of us had ever heard. None of us got any sleep at all. Except Jamie. He has earplugs. It's Ramadan, so the whole village was up until 3am beating drums, singing songs, and partying as they ate their second and third dinners. They would literally wake up at midnight and then at 3 or 4 (before the sun comes up) and make another meal. There were hundreds of donkeys (they call them donks here) that were braying all night long. Then, just as the village was going to sleep, the roosters started to crow at around 5am. And all of this was happening in the school yard that we were staying in:

We were able to watch the guys fix two water wells for the village the next morning.
Here's the inside of the pipe going down to the well:

We helped a little, but it was mostly the two locals with us.

I just felt so manly carrying this around:

I call this the "Bo Jackson" because I look a lot like Bo in this picture:

Jamie and I with our super cool neck protectors:

Random photo:

It was amazing to see the process but even more amazing to watch these people be able to get water again. Some of the other villages that we visited still have broken pumps that are beyond repair. They either have to walk or ride their donks for miles and miles to go to the nearest pump that works, or they just get their water out of the local water hole, the one that all the animal herds drink, pee, and wash in.

We made our way to other villages after we repaired the well. We took a 3 hour break in the middle of the day(matt had a pretty serious bout of dehydration and needed to rest) and we all heard one of the local's salvation story. He's the only local I've met that loves Jesus here in the North.
After our break, we saw 3-4 other villages and then stopped for the night, just outside of the village we had stayed in the night before. It was quiet, except for crickets and far off donks from the nearby village. We ate chicken, rice and bread that night, with a little sand mixed in. I woke up around 5am and had to go to the bathroom. One of the locals had my flashlight with him, everyone was asleep and it was dark but for a little moonlight on the road. I grabbed my toilet paper and started down the road. As I settled in to a nice spot, I heard 6 gun shots probably a mile away. It was a weird thing to be going to the bathroom in the middle of a road in Darfur and hear gunshots!

We woke up, ate breakfast and headed out again. We were supposed to stay out another night, but a storm was rolling in, so we decided to head back to El Fasher around 4pm. It was so nice to take a shower and use an actual toilet to go to the bathroom!

We will be in El Fasher another day and will fly back to Khartoum early on the 15th. This is a dark place which is void of true worship from its people. Please pray for the muslims today. Pray for the corrupt government that is doing nothing to help the people of Darfur and Southern Sudan. And pray for us, that we would have these images, conversations, smells, tastes and memories seared into our hearts and minds, that we would be faithful to pray for these people and hope for their salvation.
Here are some faces of the locals we were able to meet over the last 3 days in the villages:

This entry was posted on Monday, September 15, 2008 at Monday, September 15, 2008 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


I love that first picture of the three women. Did you pose that or were they just standing perfectly aligned. Honey, you should take pics for National Geographic!

September 15, 2008 at 6:59 PM

I agree with Faith! It is an unbelievable photograph. All of them are. I can't get over how I feel as though I am there. Thank you for that. It makes praying for these people different. Safe Travels to you guys!!!

September 15, 2008 at 9:56 PM
Scott b  

great stories and faces. Know that y'all are loved and being prayed for. Ready for y'all to get back and share more.

September 15, 2008 at 11:52 PM

your hard hat picture is scary. i like beau's boots though in the other one :) oh and way to use the word cacophony

September 16, 2008 at 9:52 AM

Wow, "Michael the Construction Man!" The pictures are just awesome in this blog. Still praying for your safe return.

September 16, 2008 at 2:59 PM

Hey Michael. I came on to say that the photos are AMAZING, but then, I see that everyone else is saying that too. So, when you get back tell me what lens that is that you are using! Also, one of the pictures of the guy with Sunglasses...looks like Josh with all the freckles. Like, I thought it WAS josh. But, then, I remembered that Josh is here with me, not in Sudan. Okay. Have a safe trip.

September 16, 2008 at 8:21 PM

You are a stud honey...

September 16, 2008 at 10:16 PM

Just got an email saying we need to pray for your teams safety. Just letting you know we are all praying!! Looks like the trip has been amazing so far!

September 17, 2008 at 12:58 PM

dts family is praying for you guys.

September 17, 2008 at 3:07 PM

I've been wondering ever since you mentioned it, and since you haven't said, I'll just ask...

Did any of the villagers roast a goat for you guys, and does it in fact, taste like chicken?! ;)

September 17, 2008 at 4:59 PM

Thank you so much to everyone who has thought about us and prayed for us during out time here. To answer the question about goat meat, I am 90% what I ate one night was goat. It's a little scary that I'm not 100% sure, but hey, it's Sudan. I don't think it tastes like chicken. It tastes more like beef but with a kick. I'm not sure how else to describe it. You'll have to come out here and try it yourself. It's an incredible place.

September 17, 2008 at 5:53 PM

I LOVE ALL your pictures. I really love how you are able to capture so much with a picture. Safe travels home.

September 17, 2008 at 6:42 PM

1. seriously with the trucks!
2. the picture of the IDP camp hurt my heart
3. i love the girl in the picture labeled 'her sister' she has some sass in her it looks like :)

September 17, 2008 at 9:08 PM

Michael, these pictures are amazing and thank you for updating!

September 19, 2008 at 9:18 AM

I totally affirm ev1 and say amazing pictures!! I totally love those faces! I am in love with the sweetness in their eyes. What a blessing to be able to go and love on such sweet people. I also want to know what lens you were using..

September 22, 2008 at 2:16 PM

Wonderful stories, beautiful people. Thank you so much for sharing, I am humbled.

October 7, 2008 at 9:00 AM

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