'Displace Me'
Home Up

photo courtesy of Jen Nguyen

 

NDP Seniors try out their 'shelter' for the night at 'Displace Me' at the National Mall.

 

photo courtesy of Jen Nguyen

 

 

 

Displace Me-  My heart is beeping…

Kyra Kontudis ‘07

April 29, 2007

 

photo courtesy of Jen Nguyen

     I bought a white t-shirt and put a big red X on the front. I packed my water, saltines, sleeping bag and cardboard.  I was ready to be displaced. As we got on the metro I struggled to keep all my belongings together, which I’m sure was part of the experience. We  had a little scare when Hayley was left on the blue line when we changed to the green line but everything worked out.

     Once we got to the mall I was overwhelmed with all the people who had showed up. There were mountains of crackers and water. I called my parents to tell them I arrived safely.  My daddy picked up and of course acted like a father asked if there were police and told me not to get arrested. I assured him that I would be fine and he said “I know you will have a good time I love you” and I replied I love you to and before we hung up he told me he was proud of me.

     Once we started setting up our cardboard homes I realized I didn’t have that much cardboard. So Marie and I decided to cut all our cardboard in half to get more out of it. We built ourselves a humble little hut; we hardly had a roof over our heads. As everyone joined in the center we ran in order to be part of the documentary. After we finished making the documentary we were on our own.

     We met out neighbors and walked around to introduce ourselves to others. People had brought instruments like drums bongos and guitars. As we became groupies we started to sing and dance in African rhythms it was amazing. The enclosed space became too small because so many people began to join so we moved to the major open area which also began to fill. There were guest speakers who did an amazing job of touching everyone’s hearts.

     After the man from Uganda finished his speech he introduced himself to all the people. Of course the NDP girls asked lots of questions and became more informed. We know his story and like he said we are the ones who are responsible to spread the word. Throughout the night there were different activities. We wrote letters to political figures and attached our pictures. The hardest task in my opinion was the 21 minutes of silence. Each minute symbolized a year of unrest in Uganda. I isolated myself from everyone in order to remain silent.

     The food distribution in my opinion was the most interesting. Women in Uganda are in charge of getting water. They wake up early in the morning and wait at the well for hours in order to get clean water. The people in charge gave directions on how the crackers and water would be passed out. The men were allowed to go to the food station and take 3 packs of crackers while women from the age of 18-22 were allowed to go to the food station and get 1 bottle of water. If you were a women and wanted crackers you needed to find a man and ask if he could get you food. The men had to go to a woman and get water. Many people traded in order to get both food and water.

     As the night went on we became closer to the people around us. We threw out beats and cheers such as “Peace to Uganda Peace to Uganda” “peace and love” “we are Uganda” “let our beat shake the white house” and many more.

     It was finally time to go to bed and it was freezing and miserable, I woke up every hour shivering but I was glad. I felt bad having so much fun because all the poor invisible children are miserable so by being miserable at night I felt like I had a tiny bit of their experience. Overall if I were to describe my experience in one word it would be moving. I am so happy I participated because it is a memory that will last me forever.

* * *