Mission AccomplishedRoxAnna Breitigan July 23, 2018
This past couple of weeks has been challenging but we have kept a positive attitude even without knowing what was in store for us. For most of our time here, we were uncertain if we would be able to accomplish our mission and we tried to not feel defeated. It was also helpful that we had each other to lean on, borrow from, and watch out for. Some of us were strangers at the beginning of this adventure but we will forever be bonded by this journey. It has been a privilege to come on this adventure of a lifetime, to work with these incredibly strong, intelligent people and help save a species. It gives me even more drive to work harder when I get home to do what I can to make a difference. It also has been a reminder of many things. That when life gets tough, we all have the strength and courage to do things we never thought we could. To let the small things go. To be flexible. To learn from those who have the experience and knowledge that you have yet to gain. To be grateful for the luxuries we have like showers, air conditioning, cheeseburgers, internet and necessities, like clean water. To work together with a common goal and great things can happen. To have fun and remember a positive attitude can get you through a lot of adversities.
As we traveled around the land while we were here, we were greeted by hand waves and smiles and saw what to us would look like lots of adversity. It is incredible to see the Chad people journey across the desert. It is very hot here and yet kids run across the ground wearing no shoes as if it is nothing at all. We saw people walk across the desert with nothing around for miles. I have no idea where they were coming from or where they were going but there they were. The nomads move their large tents every few days following the water for them and their animals, packing up all of their belongings each time. I don’t know about you but it takes me weeks and weeks to pack before moving. Many people simply wear flip flops in the sun, which many of us are used to except we don’t tend to work in them. It is nothing to them, it’s really remarkable. The people are proud to have the oryx back and are respectful of the logo on the trucks. It is encouraging to know that the local people support this project, this will be important moving forward. As the field conservationists that stay here continue to talk the local communities and nomads, the word will spread and keep the oryx safe. It takes a lot of puzzle pieces to accomplish the goals of any project and the more pieces that fall into place and adversities that can be overcome, the better it will be for species. This does seem to be happening with this project, which leaves me with a feeling of hopefulness.
This mission has been accomplished and we are preparing to leave our own nomad home in Chad. We will begin our trek like the many nomads we have seen here back to our corners of the planet. Miles of road by truck, several flights, probably many airport coffees and one Customs stop will take me home to our desert in the Coachella Valley. I look forward to many things upon returning to America, however, I take with me many fond memories from Chad. Leaving our safe bubbles of where we are from is important to allow our perspectives and minds to be opened to new things. It allows us to be more tolerant of others and be more grateful for the lives we have. I wish everyone could take any kind of trip outside of where they are from, look at life from another lens, maybe new inspirations would come from that. Maybe the world overall would be a better place. At The Living Desert, we can strive to be that place for people to visit, we can show them the amazing desert animals and plants, they can escape to the desert beauty through our gates and hopefully be inspired to do their bit to make the world a better place. We will continue to support and do good work so that species like the Scimitar-horned oryx can continue to thrive in the wild. We will bring those along with us who want to help us protect the deserts whether it is the one in our own back yard or one thousands of miles away.