I am fortunate to live in the Washington DC area which allows me and my family to visit the National Mall for many different activities that includes national speakers, celebraties, entertainment, etc. This weekend Tents of Hope were on display. Tents of Hope came about when communities across the US and abroad were invited to transform refugee tents into unique works of art that express their compassion and desire for peace for the people of Darfur, Sudan.
The tents were on display this weekend as a journey of hope and compassion which displayed painted simulated refugee tents to create awareness and support for the people of Darfur, Sudan. It's the hope that these tents will help lead to the advocacy necessary to stop the genocide in Darfur.
"For refugees, the tent is a symbol of loss. Every time they come back to their tents, they are reminded of what they used to have, what was taken from them, and their longing to return home. Yet, even though the tent represents loss, [refugees] immediately humanize their situation by creating new life. In the camps in Chad, this is most obvious from the fences and screens they build around their tents with sticks and grass and the little plots they scratch out next to their tents to grow vegetables. Loss and hope exist side by side. This is not only true for uprooted people from Darfur: it is the human condition. Our ability to create and sustain hope in the presence of loss — even enormous loss — is one of humanity's most exalted characteristics."—Jerry Fowler, executive director, Save Darfur Coalition
The situation in Darfur is quite complex but basically it began in 2003, when two rebel organizations attacked a government installation in North Darfur. The rebels and their supporters main goal was to seek equal treatment for the people of Darfur, who have suffered many years of neglect and discrimination by the Sudanese government. The government responded by arming Arab militia groups, known as the Janjaweed, to attack civilians in a brutal scorched-earth campaign. Over 300,000 civilians were killed and 2 million were internally displaced, many people saw their villages burned, killing and raping, kidnapping and driving people out of their homes was commonplace.
You can read more about the challenge of Darfur here at: http://www.uusc.org/challenge_of_darfur
Systematic rape and gender-based violence is being used in Darfur against women as a weapon of war. Armed groups attack women and girls when they leave their villages and internally displace persons (IDP) camps to search for firewood and other daily necessities. This is traditionally women's work and men have not taken on the role because, if found, they would be killed while the women are "only raped."
The Drumbeat for Darfur campaign was started by UUSC (Unitarian Universalist Service Committee), to call for constant action to raise awareness, urging the Bush administration, Congress, and other institutions to make ending the genocide one of their highest priorities.
Read more about Drumbeat for Darfur here: http://www.uusc.org/drumbeatfordarfur
What can you do?
Contact your legislators and policymakers and tell them you are concerned about the genocide in Darfur - especially the lack of protection for women and girls.
Educate your community by handing out fact sheets, fliers, poster, buttons and stickers.
Organize an event to raise awareness about the continuing crisis in Darfur.
Sign up to receive action alerts and information by visiting http://www.uusc.org/ and joining their e-Community.
Anything you can do is important for these people. Talking about Darfur and educating your friends and families, blog about Darfur, contact your local representatives. We must unite to help our sisters and brothers in times of crisis. It's not right that these atrocities are happening in our world today. Whatever you can do is most appreciated.
Connect, take action, end the genocide!