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CJ's Adventures "Be the change you want to see in the world." Mahatma Gandhi

April 18 - Refugees in Ngara

TANZANIA | Saturday, 18 April 2009 | Views [461]

April 18

As many of you may already know, Ngara had some of the largest refugee camps in the world. Today we drove the Benako route and although there are really no refugees left in this area, their presence can still be seen. One of the most notable features is the visible deforestation. One camp alone had over a million refugees from Rwanda. These refugees needed to cook and build housing to survive and as a result, what was once a forest now looks like a savanna with a few left over trees. Most of the trees you can see from the road are strangely interspersed in straight rows, indicating the reforestation efforts of the unnatural landscape. On the Rusumo route we drive down into the valley towards the Kagera river. From the church where one of our artisan groups meets you can see the area where refugees were registered as they came across the river to safety in Tanzania. As I am from a country where there are no real visible signs of war, no burned out tanks in the forest, no bomb holes in the ground, no deforestation or refugee registration stations, it is a very eerie feeling for me to stand in a place where people ran for their lives. It is so difficult for me to connect with the idea of leaving my house, belongings, friends, family and everything I have ever know to run for my life from a war that has killed at least 1/8th of the people I know. The idea of Canada losing 4 million of its people to genocide is, frankly, unimaginable.

I would not have wanted to be here when the Rwanda or Burundi conflicts were taking place but I am grateful for the opportunity to see the destruction that Man is capable of. Not only does it give me a healthy appreciation for my fellow global citizen and the human condition but it also makes me think that, if the world is to balance, then Man must also be capable of great creation.  

Tags: philisophical, refugees

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