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December 6 , 2004
Panel highlights Sudan solutions, contributions
BY Katherine Baust
The complex issue of how to stop the Sudan genocide was the topic of discussion in the first panel of the series of “Sudan: Take Action,” sponsored by the Institute for Comparative and International Studies (ICIS) and held in WHSCAB auditorium, Tuesday, Nov. 30. The series is a result of on-campus discussions held earlier this fall to help bring attention to the ongoing crisis in Sudan’s Darfur region.
The five-person panel, as well as several audience members, spent approximately two hours discussing their experiences, perspectives, how to get involved and their current
“The United Nations is supposed to stop this type of thing from happening, but it’s not doing its job,” said moderator Neal Shulman, associate professor in the School of Medicine.
“Two million people have been killed in Sudan, a number equivalent to one 9/11 attack on U.S. soil each week for 13 years,” said Mark Bixler of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and author of the book, Lost Boys of Sudan—An American Story of the Refugee Experience. “Sudan is a complex war often described in too simplistic of terms.”
“If I have human rights, why is no one paying attention to the crisis in Sudan?” asked John Madut, one of those “Lost Boys,” as some in the community of Sudanese refugees have come to be known. He told the audience about his experiences in war-torn Sudan and how he was forced to flee his country. “Even if peace is accomplished this year, people are sick and there is no medicine. People have no shoes on their feet, there are no more cattle to raise, and no communication in rural areas.”
“Now that I know, what do I owe?” asked Daniel Kirk, international service director of the Marietta Rotary Club. He recently returned from northern Uganda, where he was on a mission to deliver wheelchairs to polio victims as a public service project. “There is an infinite, insatiable need for help in Africa.”
“We need to get more people caring about what is happening in Sudan,” said Susan Allen, professor in the Rollins School of Public Health. She worked as an AIDS researcher in Rwanda from 1986–94 and still heads a continuing AIDS project there. “We are responsible to be informed and to not be selective in what we hear and to act on it. Educating parents is also an important part of preventing another genocide from happening.”
Following the panelists’ comments, several audience members discussed their efforts to help in Sudan. Janis Sundquist has started a fund to address healthcare issues of Sudanese refugees. Yasmin Elhady, an undergraduate in neuroscience and behavioral biology, raised $2,500 for the cause as the organizer of a fasting and other student activities on campus. College alumnus Vikash Parekh is starting “Paperclips for Peace,” which will sell symbolic items (similar to breast cancer ribbons) to raise funds for food, clean water and medicine in Sudan.
“There is progress done every time we meet,” Shulman said. “It is not about how many people are here but about what the people here do.”
For any more information about any of these initiatives, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. The next session of Sudan: Take Action meeting will be Thursday, Dec. 16, at 7 p.m. in the WSCHAB auditorium.