Darfur – Silence No More
This afternoon, I sat down at the back pew of the First Congregational Church in Long Beach & engaged in a forum/discussion regarding the current genocide in Darfur, Sudan. Its five panelists illustrated the crisis in detail; offered potential resolutions for what many of us feel so helpless toward.
I learned that since early 2003, the Janjaweed is responsible for taking the lives of 400,000 of our brotherhood. About 2,500,000 civilians have been driven from their homes, their villages torched and property stolen. More than 200,000 Sudanese have escaped to neighboring Chad, but most are trapped inside Darfur. Thousands more die each month from the severe lack of food, water, medicine, & proper shelter.
Sitting there, absorbing it all, I realized that it is not about the overwhelming numbers; it is about individual lives. The mother who simply holds a morsel of maize for her starving baby; the young girl who trembles at the thought of leaving the camp to fetch firewood & water for fear of being raped; and the 7-year old boy infested with parasites & resulting dysentery, purging to death for lack of medication. The displacement camps are overrun with families that have lost their fathers. Some villagers scrounge for sticks & plastic bags to construct shelter from the sun and wind.
Some of us were simply overcome with feelings of powerlessness at the images, statistics & atrocious accounts of suffering among our Sudanese brethren. Yet, as the presentation progressed, we felt a sort of collective hope surge within us â€“ that as long as we never succumb to silence & apathy, Sudan will prevail.
I donâ€™t mean to oversimplify the crisis by any means, however once the forum ended, it became clearer how much we could truly bring about by standing in solidarity, advocating for Darfur on a local level alone. That by â€œlighting one candle,â€ so-to-speak, it illuminates so much light around us.
Well, here’s what I learned of interest today:
Â· Simply contributing $30, buys 2 solar cookers for a family in a displacement camp. These stoves covert sunlight into heat to cook food. Why is this essential? Well, it eliminates the need for the women/girls to leave the camp for firewood, thereby reducing their risk of rape & violence. See: www.jewishworldwatch.org. Furthermore, the production of these solar cookers provides income generation opportunities for the refugees.
Â· Never underestimate the strength of adding political pressure to end the crisis. We can inundate Condeleeza Riceâ€™s phone with a call to action: (202) 647-6575; the White House (202) 456-1111; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Stress the need for increased humanitarian aid, establishing a â€œno-fly zone,â€ & pushing for deployment of a peacekeeping force. Mostly, just let them know we care.
Â· â€œGlobal Days for Darfurâ€ takes places April 23-30, 2007. During this time, various rallies, marches & vigils are taking place throughout the U.S. to raise awareness. Support & join your local coalition: www.savedarfur.org.
Â· We can support on-the-ground non-profit groups, such as the International Rescue Committee or CARE International, who provides access to medical care, water, & food within relief camps. You can check out: www.theirc.org or www.care.org.
These are just a few simple suggestions as to what we could do.
Today, more than ever, what MLK once said truly struck a deep & haunting chord in my heart: â€œOur lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.â€ I just hope for a long life.
Malaria trend on the Lake Victoria islands worrying
By Owino Owuor Gabriel
On 2nd April 2007, a five-year old child was buried in a nearby village of Takawiri island. He had gone to school on the island, some 10 kilometres away from his home when he fell ill, and as soon as he came back home he slept. The parents thought that the child was very tired after walking to and from School. The father, who fish and stay at different points on the island, also came home that afternoon, and finding that his son was asleep, he did not bother to wake him up. After spending some time at his home he left for fishing. The mother, finding that her son had fever, gave him some aspirin tablets. The condition of the child got worse and after two days the mother decided to take the child to Suba Sub- district Hospital for treatment (some 35 kilometers away from home). The child was vomiting and had severe diarrhoea. On returning from the hospital after receiving treatment, she met her husband and told him that the child was not well. The husband then decided that they should consult a traditional healer. The diviner told the parents that their child was bewitched by someone residing close to them in their village. He did not mention the name but just said that this â€œwitchâ€ was bald-headed, had a cattle byre, a fisherman and kept ducks. Though the diviner did not mention any names, the parents of the child knew that the description fitted someone from their village. The diviner then gave them some medicine, which was later given to the child and his condition improved tremendously and he later â€œrecoveredâ€. After two days the child fell sick again and a message was sent to the father. The child complained of stomach ache and was vomiting. The father, seeing the condition of the child, told his wife to put the child on her back and they left for Mbita Health Centre by boat. Before they left, the child developed convulsions and when they arrived at the health centre the clinical officer told them that their child had already died of severe malaria.
By Owino Owuor Gabriel
Thank you so much for your nupic contribution; I have just taken up the same journey this past January as a way to help ease the nightmares in a different environment, the Lake Victoria islands. I still have from my last yearsâ€™ visit to Darfur a bad experience. Even though we serve at different bases, I feel both of us have very similar events that we went through, yours is just but anther evidence. I am most humbled by your kind and heartfelt remarks concerning innocent people, poor of the poorest who are silently suffering in Darfur. I have enjoyed your story that I have read so far and will bookmark â€œBe the causeâ€ as my favorite section, this site is so inspiring. I would also like to say thank you for yours a pretty stand up to expose violation of human rights in Darfur, especially for the young girl â€œwho trembled at the thought of leaving the camp to fetch firewood and water for fear of being raped, and the 7-year old boy infested with parasites. To me, these are just but tips of the â€œice bugâ€, seemed to have done a mighty damn fine job too! Imagine what MLK was right! That â€œOur lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.â€ I am happy, you are blessed to speak on behalf the voiceless-the Darfur people! May god bless and keep you always in the palm of his hand.
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