by Ann Curry, NBC News
CHAD/DARFUR BORDER -- We traveled to the Chad/Darfur border with New York Times columnist Nick Kristof and actor/activist George Clooney, two men you might not guess have much in common, but both are smart and funny -- and care deeply about Darfur.
Today in a refugee camp on the Chad side, we found in one refugee camp, a school house named for the President Obama.
School house named after President Obama | Photo by: Ann Curry/NBC News
The students told us Obama made them believe anything was possible, that they could rise from the sands of this desert, where they don't even have shoes, and become anyone they wanted, maybe even a president. That these children, who are among humankind's most suffering living in one of the world's most hopeless places, could imagine such greatness... now that is the audacity of hope.
Taken from inside a refugee camp building, while listening to the Darfurian tribal shieks tell us they want Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir punished by the International Criminal Court. Outside, the children are listening. The littlest Darfurians are full of joy. Most can't even remember any life but this, in a dusty refugee camp with not enough food to go around. To them, this is normal. | Photo: Ann Curry/NBC News
Watching them, George worries aloud that they might live the rest of their lives as refugees.
Even if the International Criminal Court issues an arrest warrant for Sudan's President Omar al Bashir for crimes against humanity in Darfur, he would likely only be arrested if he leaves his country. And even if he is ousted, would it be safe for the refugees to return, given that many people in Sudan were to complicit in carrying out the atrocities?
Nick, who has reported on this human tragedy more than any other American journalist has a hard time understanding why it has taken so long to help these survivors. The atrocities started six years ago.
The refugees have waited and waited and waited for a chance to finally go home and live in peace.
They want justice and peace, but mostly they want to just be back in the embrace of their old lives, the sorgum growing, the children playing, the thatched roofs sheltering their familes from the bright sun.
We go inside the Obama school house, and there, George asks the children to wave at the camera, and say hello to President Obama. They joyfully comply for longer than we expected.
The Darfurian children have no idea Clooney is a movie star, all they know is he's fun and that he's trying to help them. | Photo: Ann Curry/NBC News
George Clooney is actually buried underneath the giggling children who are looking at the photos he has taken of them. | Photo: Ann Curry / NBC News
Afterwards George tells me he knows that was manipulative, but that Obama and the rest of the world's leaders are important to what happens next.
What will they do if for the first time, the ICC issues an arrest warrant for a sitting president? Morally, can the world allow these survivors to linger and die in refugee camps?
See Ann's reporting on Nightly News here. Watch TODAY and Nightly for more for her reporting from the region. Follow Ann's reporting on humanitarian issues on AnnCurry.msnbc.com. Click here to get her updates on Twitter.