Holiday Greetings from West Darfur

Neal Deles is CRS’ new area coordinator and education program manager in West Darfur. Here he shares first thoughts from our field office in El Geneina.


In October 2008, Neal Deles began serving as CRS area coordinator and education program manager in West Darfur, working out of our El Geneina field office. Photo by CRS staff.

Since arriving in early October, there has been so much to learn, understand and reflect on about CRS’ life-giving work in Darfur. One word I have heard a lot (and often say now) is “tamam” or “good.” I think it also sums up my experience here so far.

I had prepared for a challenging life out here, but I can actually say that I am quite comfortable. I like that we live simply and can clearly see the stars when the electricity goes off in the late evening. The food is good too—a lot of okra, tomatoes and beans—and the people are friendly and hospitable. Most of all, I am grateful for the collegiality and commitment of our 114-strong team here in West Darfur who have managed to keep things moving along.

The thousands of internally displaced people continue to be a focus of my reflections. I can imagine but still not fully comprehend how it feels to have your life put on hold for five years. One affirming aspect for me is the hope CRS offers as we help those in need continue to live with dignity even under difficult circumstances.

I am awed by people’s resilience and our staff’s concern for their plight. Our Sudanese colleagues keep wishing for peaceful times so displaced families can return to their original villages. And there are a few hopeful signs: I visited a northern town and learned that displaced families there are planting crops thanks to the generosity of the community hosting them, which offered some plots of land for farming. Our agriculture program provides seeds and farming tools so they can grow their own food in addition to receiving emergency rations. Next year, we are planning to provide food in exchange for work to community members wanting to help build roads and bridges. These kinds of programs help reduce dependency on aid and uphold our guiding principles by encouraging people to be part of the solution.

I ask for your continued prayers for the CRS Sudan program and our beneficiaries. And I wish you a joy-filled Christmas and holiday season. I have so much faith that despite the challenging times here, there is still a lot be thankful for and to hope for. There is still a lot of “tamam”!

– Neal Deles

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2 Responses to “Holiday Greetings from West Darfur”

  1. Celebrating Christmas and Supporting Sudan | CRS Fair Trade News Says:

    […] of sacrifices.  He is doing great out there, though, and I thought you might enjoy reading about Neal’s experiences in Sudan and his hope for the […]

  2. Kevin Cushing Says:

    It’s refreshing to hear about simple people and their basic needs being fulfilled by CRS staff as well as by one another. That sure beats the greed and materialism that has so pervaded Western world, especially during the Christmas season.

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