An air of solemnity filled Mitten Hall last Wednesday during “Darfur Project: So Dark the ACTS of Man,” an event that highlighted the genocide that has claimed more than 450,000 lives in Darfur.
More than 75 people came together to express their support to bring an end to the Darfur crisis at the event, which was organized by Temple Advocates for Africa, along with efforts from other organizations such as One.org, OAS and NAACP.
Darfur, a region of western Sudan, has been in armed conflict between rebels, militia groups and the Sudanese government since February 2003. The United Nations estimates that in addition to more than 450,000 lives being lost from the violence and diseases, up to 2.5 million people have been displaced as a result of the conflict.
“So Dark the ACTS of Man,” TAfA’s theme for the event, commenced with the showing of “The Devil Came on Horseback” a firsthand account of the Darfur atrocities by former U.S. Marine Brian Steidle, who was one of the first to travel to Sudan in 2004 to monitor the ceasefire and witness the genocide.
Following the movie, the attendees browsed through galleries of art work, poetry, and pictures from Darfur and collected information on how to take action to end the genocide.
Katie Aulenbach, a junior international business major, said it was touching to read poetry written by the children in Darfur and see images of their daily sufferings.
“Right from the movie to the art galleries, it was an eye-opener especially the poems written by children of Sudan,” she said. “It’s easy for us to forget about Darfur because such crisis don’t happen around us. I definitely feel we can do so much more. To get more people involved, we need to see programs like these reach out to all parts of the country.”
TAfA Vice President Jackie Hopkins said the aim of such events is to educate people about the apathetic humanitarian crisis that take place in Darfur and get them involved towards helping to make a change.
“The Darfur Project is a great way to mobilize people not only to learn but also to take action. It is important to educate them not only on issues threatening humanity but also to take what they have learned and become passionate about a cause and share their passion for change with others,” Hopkins said.
The message of the Darfur Project is to signal to the masses that even ordinary people can make a difference and realize we each have the ability to impact what happens in our world, Hopkins said. It is important to comprehend that change starts with each one of us, she said.
As the project commenced, guests were given the opportunity to offer their thoughts about the movie, the Darfur situation, as well as what they would like to see change via videotape. Hopkins confirmed TAfA would send these videos to local politicians in an attempt to persuade them to write legislation and policies that would prove to be a benefactor to the current Darfur crisis.
After learning more about the genocide in Darfur, sophomore mechanical engineering major Jordan Weaver said he is committed to raise awareness and give his very best to see some sort of change take place on a more consistent basis.
“We cannot let this just pass by us,” Weaver said. ” I certainly plan to write out a letter to a Congressman.
“Personally, I aim to see that gatherings, awareness camps and drives like these take place on a constant basis. The time to act is now.”
Kunal Parekh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.