Ekhlas Ahmed

1. Sudan
My home
My Homeland
My country
My love
surrounded by beauty, that’s what I remember
the beauty of its people
i remember it like it was yesterday, the warmness of my peoples’ hearts
I remember it like it is happening right now, the kindness that my
people carried
I remember my love
I remember warm rain and green grass, but I forget how the houses look
I remember all our promises to each other and how I said I will never
forget you no matter where I went in the world
My blood is yours
I remember green grass but I forget everything else
All I remember is your beauty my love
Your memories are keeping me alive.

2. I left when I was young
I left when I was unable
I left when I was unaware
I left with my eyes closed
but never knowing any fear
I left with a vision
a real clear one
I left with the future
the unknown one
I left with a desire
the really hungry one
I left with starvation
but only for education
I left with a motivation
the one that has no limitation
I left with a promise
a really strong one

3. How could I ever forget the memories of mine
Though miles come between us
and distance keeps us apart
nothing can ever change
the love inside my heart
how could I ever forget

I may not be there
every minute of the day
but you’re always here with me
in at least a thousand ways
whether it be a thought,
or a moment that we’ve shared
it only takes a second
to get from here to there
though I cannot really feel
just know that you are simply here
no matter how time interferes
no matter second, day, or year
just know you will always be here
even though you can’t really hear
it’s always nice to know
I’ve got these memories in my mind right here

4. I am a believer
I am a survivor
I am stronger
I am a daughter
I am a sister
I am a friend
I am a supporter
I am a groper
I am an educator
I am a helper
I am a voice
I am a quitter
I am a wonder
I am an achiever
I am a compromiser
I am an advisor
I am a creator
I am a producer
I am a computer
I am a downloader
Yes I am
Just remember

5. It will never be about any of the gifts you ever got me
It will never be about any of the money you ever spent on me
never about the kingdom we lived in
it will always be about the time we spent together
always about the laughter we shared
tears of joy that we cry
just remember
it is never about any of the holidays
but always about what we leave behind during them
never about the food that we ate
but always about the time we took to prepare it together
just remember
It is never about the mistakes that we make
but always about the advice you share
it is never about the negative
but always about the positive that I will remember about you
just remember
it is never about the challenges we ever fear
but always about the words that will help us repair
it is never about the old
but always about the new that I fear
never about regard
but always about living in the present step
just remember it is never about how many years past
but always about every time we shared
that will always remain in my memories (you have “remind” which i
replaced with remain – but what do you want?)

6. It’s quiet in Darfur. It’s not the silence of peace, but it’s the
silence of death.
My homes that once carried histories of generations are now burned ashes on the ground waiting for the wind to blow them to their final destination.
My mothers who were once leaders of their communities are now used as
war weapons.
My sisters who once had chances to be future leaders are now afraid to
see the sun.
So I speak for them.
I speak for the thousand mothers who have been speaking forever but
there is no one to listen.
I speak for the thousand girls who want to speak but don’t have a voice.
I speak for the thousand children of Darfur because they can only speak
in silence.
I speak so they can be heard
because I feel their pain.
When I was a little girl I used to cry
but only in silence
never showing my parents my tears
not even my siblings, or peers
because they told us if you showed people your tears, it meant that you
were afraid
it meant you were weak, it meant you were powerless
Yes I was young, but I knew I wasn’t weak, and I knew I wasn’t powerless
I had, and still have, a weapon
A Voice
A Voice that once it’s heard, demands attention
A Voice that doesn’t only speak, but repeats
So I will speak so they can be heard

7. Have you ever experienced waking up to sounds of gunshots, everywhere?
Have you ever experienced the death of your parents or loved ones
right before your eyes?
Imagine waking up to the sounds of gunshots.
Every, every morning that’s the only thing you hear.
Searching for a place where you can feel safe,
searching for a place where you can find justice and freedom.
Imagine living a life where you cannot go back to your homeland,
where your connections to the stories of your family have been broken
My parents and grandparents often tell me of the place we came from
and of the success and the strength of our community
but now I know I can’t go back
I can only imagine
because of the genocide that is happening in Darfur.

Ekhlas Ahmed fled the outbreak of civil war in Sudan with her mother, father, and three younger brothers in 2004. Her family was resettled to Portland, Maine, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in International Relations and a master’s degree in Education from the University of Southern Maine, with hopes of helping resettle other refugees. She is the vice president and co-founder of Chance to Advance, a nonprofit organization raising awareness of the violence in Darfur and the needs of the people there, as well as to implement an initiative to make education more feasible for all. She is writing a book called The Bridge Between, an autobiography in poetic form about her experiences in Darfur.