Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Christmas in Darfur

In the last little while I have spent a lot of time researching Darfur for the purposes of a five minute blurb in church this evening. I thought I would test run it here.

In October of 2006, I came across a post linking to a CNN report on the crises in Darfur, Sudan. Reading about the horrific realities that our sisters survive prompted me and a number of other bloggers to plan a website dedicated to the support of these hungry and hurting people. While waiting for my partners, who are working on web design and fund-raising plans, I have begun a small project named: Bags for Darfur. These bags are made from reclaimed fabrics and are useful for book carrying, grocery shopping, making a fashion statement, or for carrying bags of money to donate to our cause.

I imagine that Christmas in Sudan will be much like any other day. For most, there will be nothing to look forward to.

Listen, as I share the stories of two Sudanese women who were brave enough to tell the truth of what life is like in Darfur.

“I am 16 years old. One day, in, I was collecting firewood for my family when three armed men on camels came and surrounded me. They hold me down, tied my hands and raped me one after the other. When I arrive home, I told my family what happened. They threw me out of home and I had to build my own hut away from them. I was engaged to a man and I was so much looking forward to getting married. After I got raped, he did not want to marry me and broke off the engagement because he said that I was now disgraced and spoilt. It is the worst thing for me.

…When I was eight months pregnant from the rape, the police came to my hut and forced me with their guns to go to the police station. They asked me questions, so I told them that I had been raped. They told me that as I was not married, I will deliver this baby illegally. They beat me with a whip on the chest and back and put me in jail. There were other women in jail, who had the same story. During the day, we had to walk to the well four times a day to get the policemen water, clean and cook for them. At night, I was in a small cell with 23 other women. I had no other food than what I could find during my work during the day. And the only water was what I drank at the well. I stayed 10 days in jail and now I still have to pay the fine, 20,000 Sudanese Dinars (65 USD) they asked me. My child is now 2 months old.” Woman, 16, February 2005, West Darfur.

Halima Bashir was born into the
remote western deserts of Sudan. She grew up in a wonderfully rich environment and later went on to study medicine. At age twenty-four she returned to her tribe to begin practising as their first ever qualified doctor. But then a dark cloud descended upon her people...
Janjaweed Arab militias began savagely assaulting her people, invariably with the backing of the Sudan army and air force.
At first, Halima tried not to get involved. But in January 2004 they attacked her area, gang-raping 42 schoolgirls. Halima treated the traumatised victims and sickened by what she had seen, she decided to speak out in a Sudanese newspaper and to the UN charities.
Then the secret police came for her. For days Halima was interrogated, subjected to unspeakable torture and gang-raped.

Her crime was to tell people that a group of Janjaweed militia and Government soldiers had attacked the primary school for girls, raping pupils as young as 8. She paid a terrible personal price. "They were aged between 8 and 13," she said. "They were in shock, bleeding, screaming and crying. "It was horrific. Because I told people what happened, the authorities arrested me. "They said, 'We will show you what rape is'. "They beat me severely. At night, three men raped me. "The following day the same thing, different men. Torture and rape, every day, torture and rape." tens of thousands of women and girls have been subjected to rape and other extreme sexual violence since the crisis erupted in 2003. The Islamist Government in Khartoum has given the Janjaweed militia a free hand in putting down a rebellion by African tribes in the region, and there has not been a single conviction in Darfur for rape against displaced women and girls.

Please join me as I share with you :
Desmond Tutu’s Prayer for Darfur
“We pray for the people of Darfur who have been terrorised and forced from their homes; for those who have fled to refugee camps, and who still live in fear;
We pray for those who have died, and for their families;
We pray for the women in Darfur who face danger every day as they leave their camps for firewood – may You watch over Your daughters;
We pray for the children of Darfur, especially those who face a frightening world without one or both of their parents – may they be protected and comforted;
We pray for the safety of the humanitarian aid workers as they feed and care for the people of Darfur;
We pray for the safety of the African Union's Mission in Darfur as they work in difficult circumstances;
We pray for the safety of the United Nations' Peacekeepers when they begin their duties in Darfur;
We pray that the world's leaders will be guided by You in their quest for justice and safety for Darfur's people – may they be inspired by Your humanity;
Remind us that we are all Your children, and teach us to listen;
We pray that those who are causing death and misery in Darfur will turn away from racism and violence – may they be forgiven when they turn to You for guidance instead;
Teach us to rejoice in all the things we have in common and respect each others’ differences;
We pray that people everywhere will strive to live in peace, tolerance, and respect, no matter what their faith or race – may we gain the wisdom, grace, and generosity of spirit to overcome our differences and live as one.”

Thank you.


Brian the Mennonite said...

Just aweful...makes me want to scream. I just wish that screaming would be helpful.

gloria said...

It breaks my heart, it truly does.

I watched "The Passionate Eye" last night. It was on Blue Helmets (UN Soliders) doing the same thing to the women and children in Goma. Those ladies, too, were discarded and forced to live in camps with their fellow victimized sisters. There were such young girls amongst the victims, 3 who were travelling home together from prayers before they were accosted, drugged, and gang raped by the men sent to protect them.

Heather said...

What's the plan? I have a server where I host missions and ministry websites and blogs for free. I would be glad to help out.

Roo said...

thanks for sharing this joyce.
my heart is broken.

i always loved the story of mosas when he and all the israelites were leaving egypt when they looked behind them and suddenly a million egyption soliders were chasing them. mo turns to God and freaks out. "help me! help us!" and God says to him, "what do you have in your hand." well, he had a ROD and well,
he stretched it out
and you know the rest of the story.

mosas had a rod and joyce has some really awesome bags.

Anonymous said...

It is hard to believe that such acts aredone by humans to our humans...I'm praying. Is there anything else I can do?

Anonymous said...

Joyce this post lit my fire.
In church this past Sunday we talked about what makes us angry and using that anger as an impetus for change. Then I read your post and I have been thinking about it ever since. It appears as though our whole Western existence hinges on the exploitation of others half a world away. I am so happy that you found a way to put your feet to a cause. Now I've got to find mine.

Bonnie said...

Thanks for sharing last night, this is outragious and unexceptable. You're bags are awesome, I'm proud of you for finding a way to help out our sisters in Darfur. I will continue to pray for these women and others like them around the world.

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of a friend I had in Ethiopia. She was raped at age 16. Did not tell her family because she would have been "kicked out" of the family. As a Muslim you have to stay pure till you are married. She knew it was not safe to tell anyone. I was the first person she ever told -- and that was about 3 yrs. later. Can you imagine????