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On the eve of the referendum…

Many people have been asking me how I feel about the imminent secession of Southern Sudan from the rest of the country. Over the next few days I will be blogging and doing some media work around this, and will share it with everyone. Here is my first blog entry on my thoughts on secession.

Tomorrow close to 4 million Southern Sudanese women and men will be voting to decide whether or not to separate from the north, in a referendum that was set six years earlier as part of a comprehensive peace agreement ending a 22 year civil war between north and south Sudan. The war was brutal and devastating, killing over 2 million people mostly Southern Sudanese and displacing over 4 million. Since the signing of the comprehensive peace agreement, the liberation movement which fought the Northern regime during the war, the Southern People’s Liberation Movement/Army has been nominally sharing power with the National Congress Party (ruling regime in the north) while also setting up the Goverment of Southern Sudan which has been ruling over Southern Sudan as an autonomous region. For the referendum to be valid, 60% of all eligible voters must come out to the polls tomorrow. Lots of on the ground organizing work has been done to ensure that people registered on time, both in and out of country, and that barriers were removed to enable fair voting. The ballot for instance, is a simple drawing indicating separation or unity to accomodate people, who cannot read and write:

If the vote goes ahead as planned, then I will for the first time in a very long time, feel that there is hope for our people and country/countries, because I fully support the self-determination of all of our people: Southern Sudanese, Northern Sudanese and beyond. It is almost certain that the vast majority of Southern Sudanese voters will vote to separate and if that happens then for the first time in decades, people in my country will have exercised their right to vote and their right to determine their own future. The Southern Sudanese struggle for independence was born out of a desire to be free from successive Northern regimes which have marginalized and oppressed their people. Yes it was sparked by the need to fight the imposition of Sharia law on a mostly non-Muslim South, but more broadly speaking it was against the forced assimilation into an arabized, islamicized north in which their dignity and ability to live their lives freely had never been respected, since Sudan became independent in 1956. The struggle was also against the social and economic marginalization and exploitation of their people and lands.

The demands of this struggle are essentially what people in Darfur, Nubia and Eastern Sudan have been yearning for as well: their right to live lives free of exploitation and oppression, a more equal distribution of wealth, power and development in the country; an end to a forced process of Arabizing and Islamicizing a nation that is heterogenous and multi-ethnic; and the right to access food, land, water, education and healthcare for all. If we in the rest of Sudan, cannot support the self-determination of our sisters and brothers in the south, then in my opinion we are undermining our own liberation and self-determination. We cannot stand in their way of inching closer to an end to their liberation struggle, and simultaneously move forward towards our own liberation. This would be a deep contradiction. Yes unity would have been ideal, had the foundation for it been built.

I am generally against the balkanization of African states as it makes them more vulnerable to neo-colonial exploitation. But the reality is, that we continue to be ruled by an elite, which exploits and marginalizes the majority of our people, particularly members of indigenous groups, while strengthening its grasp on the country’s resource wealth and political power. And yes some would argue that that foundation for unity in the new South Sudan has not been built yet either, where wealth and power is also concentrated in the hands of a few. But as in most liberation struggles, political independence from the oppressor is the pre-condition to building the foundation for cultural, economic and political liberation. For now let us support this first step and challenge our own internal contradictions.

There are still many unresolved issues such as what will happen with oil-rich Abyei and what the repercussions of secession will be for North Sudan. I will discuss this in my next blog tomorrow.

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If I was President of Sudan by a 13 year old girl…

 

This was posted on a list serv I am on and I had to share because she really breaks things down in a language that is not even her own:

English Language

Speech Competition

“If I was the president of Sudan”

By Salam Kamal Hidayatalla

 

(13yr old Sudanese girl)

Sudan is the largest country in Africa, its characteristic is a two way sword it’s a blessing to have all this diversity in culture and vast areas which can be regarded as a wealth but it also acted as a curse because it has been at war with itself for more than three-quarters of its modern existence. It also has many health problems like dirtiness of water, scarcity of food and lack of money. I came here to share with you my thoughts and ideas about the major issues and how I can improve them if I was the president of Sudan.

The first issue is Darfur, the suffering there is terrible and needs a cure, look how many children died from hunger and how many lost their families. After 2 months the southern people will decide if they want to continue in the united Sudan or they want to separate. Let’s say they decided to separate will you feel good and that you no longer have a south? I don’t think so.

The second is Human rights, the government ruling Sudan is selfish all they care about is money, and all the money they get from the citizens is used by them, yes they did some helpful things but they are not more helpful that what we really need. Whenever you want to say something or fight for something that’s yours you are either jailed or ignored.

The third is development, Sudan has a potential of being the world food basket just like Brazil nowadays, but because the government priorities agriculture was destroyed together with the industries that were supporting, e.g. the Jazziera Agriculture Scheme and so all the related industries suffered.

The forth is the improper distribution of power and wealth whereby its concentrated in the central part of Sudan and now it is in the hands of a very minute fraction of people, where the rest of the Sudanese people are seriously marginalized.

In conclusion I would say if I became the president of Sudan I would attentively listen to people to identify their needs and priorities then with the help of community representives and experts I will set a plan of action, for all this to work I will secure the right for people to express their thoughts and allow them to criticise my plans, so I can know if I am going on the right track or not. My purpose of all this is to make the Sudan appealing to all its citizens, they all feel equal they all have a say and they are all actively involved in its development. This would full-fill our ancestor’s aspiration for the country they sacrificed their lives for or a country which we will all be proud to belong to, a country that contributes to prove the legend of humanity.    قال اللة تعالى: (ولقد كرمنا بنى ادم ) صدق اللة العظيم.   Thank You.

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Sudan Freedom Walk…

October 1st, 2010

This is a Plea to People of South Sudan about the rally of Sudan Freedom Walk.

Our brother Simon Aban is currently, as I am writing this plea to all of my brothers and sisters from the South Sudan, is walking through heat and rain from New York to Washington DC to express the importance of the referendum that will take place in the coming few days.

Time is ticking away and it seems that we, Southerners, are sitting on the side walk with our arms folded, watching it passing as if it’s a good suspense movie.  As we are calling around people to attend the rally and the welcome of brother Aban to District of Colombia on October 7th, 2010, we continually hear the voice and echo of reluctance of coming out because it’s a working day.  People who are not Sudanese are taking that day off to show their support to us.  If they can do it so can we.  If we really want this referendum to take place on the time allotted with no delays or excuses, we must have the “Yes we can attitude”.

So come on my people, we cannot, and will not let others determine and decide things for us.  Let us show Brother Simon that his sacrifice was not in vain.  Let us go out in big numbers so that the world can see us, as people who are united and determine to decide our own destiny.  One day out of your work will not harm your job or career, but abstaining will create an everlasting negative effect that will plague us for an eternity.  It will only confirm that nasty propaganda that we cannot commit, or that we are people who cannot govern ourselves.  Let us not add more spicy ingredients to an already cooked pot that will definitely spoil our appetite and surely give us unnecessary stomach ache.

One day only and we will deliver a strong message that will resonate around the world for centuries.  This is a historical event that will affect generations and generations to come.  Let us all play a role on it and be part of it instead of being a bystander and an observer.

Brother Aban cannot do it alone.  He needs our support and our voice.

So let’s do it.

Natalina Malwal

Secretary General

Southern Sudanese Community

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Two responses…

“Yes we need freedom and justice in our country Mr. President, but on our own terms not on Western terms.” (anonymous)

“First I thank you for forwarding the remarks of president Obama and we thank all the international community for their efforts but I want to say for the President we women and children in Darfur are still suffering every day, all the kind of the violence in our faces so we need end to this violence we need Peace we need to be free we need be human-being.”
Thank you
(Saida, Darfur)

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Obama’s UN remarks at the Ministerial meeting on Sudan

On January 9th, 2011, the people of Southern Sudan are to vote in a referendum to determine whether or not Southern Sudan will secede from the rest of Sudan. Here are Obama’s remarks in preparation for the implementation of the vote. Over the next few days, I’ll be posting some responses to it to give people an idea of what Sudanese people in the diaspora are thinking about the referendum and US involvement in it.

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

________________________________________________________________

For Immediate Release September 24, 2010

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT

IN A MINISTERIAL MEETING ON SUDAN

United Nations Headquarters

New York, New York

3:37 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon.  Mr. Secretary General, on behalf of us all, thank you for convening this meeting to address the urgent situation in Sudan that demands the attention of the world.

At this moment, the fate of millions of people hangs in the balance.  What happens in Sudan in the days ahead may decide whether a people who have endured too much war move forward towards peace or slip backwards into bloodshed.  And what happens in Sudan matters to all of sub-Saharan Africa, and it matters to the world.

I want to thank Vice President Taha and First Vice President Kiir for being here.

To my fellow leaders from Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Asia — your presence sends an unmistakable message to the Sudanese people and to their leaders that we stand united.  The Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended the civil war must be fully implemented.  The referenda on self-determination scheduled for January 9th must take place — peacefully and on time, the will of the people of South Sudan and the region of Abyei must be respected, regardless of the outcome.

We are here because the leaders of Sudan face a choice.  It’s not the choice of how to move forward to give the people of Sudan the peace they deserve.  We already know what needs to be done.  The choice is for Sudanese leaders — whether they will have the courage to walk the path.  And the decision cannot be delayed any longer.

Despite some recent progress, preparations for the referenda are still behind schedule.  Now, the vote is only a little more than a hundred days away.  And tragically, as has already been referred to, a recent spike in violence in Darfur has cost the lives of hundreds of more people.

So the stakes are enormous.  We all know the terrible price paid by the Sudanese people the last time north and south were engulfed in war:  some two million people killed.  Two million people.  Millions more left homeless; millions displaced to refugee camps, threatening to destabilize the entire region.  Separately, in Darfur, the deaths of hundreds of thousands shocked the conscience of the world.  This is the awful legacy of conflict in Sudan — the past that must not become Sudan’s future.

That is why, since I took office, my administration has worked for peace in Sudan.  In my meetings with world leaders, I’ve urged my counterparts to fully support and contribute to the international effort that is required.  Ambassador Susan Rice has worked tirelessly to build a strong and active coalition committed to moving forward.  My special envoy, General Gration, has worked directly with the parties in his 20 visits to the region.

We’ve seen some progress.  With our partners, we’ve helped to bring an end to the conflict between Sudan and Chad.  We’ve worked urgently to improve humanitarian conditions on the ground.  And we’re leading the effort to transform the Sudan People’s Liberation Army into a professional security force, including putting an end to the use of children as soldiers.

Recognizing that southern Sudan must continue to develop and improve the lives of its people — regardless of the referendum’s outcome — we and the U.N. mission are helping the government of southern Sudan improve the delivery of food and water and health care and strengthen agriculture.

And most recently, we’ve redoubled our efforts to ensure that the referenda takes place as planned.  Vice President Biden recently visited the region to underscore that the results of the referenda must be respected.  Secretary Clinton has engaged repeatedly with Sudanese leaders to convey our clear expectations.  We’ve increased our diplomatic presence in southern Sudan — and mobilized others to do the same — to prepare for the January 9th vote and for what comes after.

But no one can impose progress and peace on another nation.  Ultimately, only Sudanese leaders can ensure that the referenda go forward and that Sudan finds peace.  There’s a great deal of work that must be done, and it must be done quickly.

So two paths lay ahead:  one path taken by those who flout their responsibilities and for whom there must be consequences

– more pressure and deeper isolation.

The other path is taken by leaders who fulfill their obligations, and which would lead to improved relations between the United States and Sudan, including supporting agricultural development for all Sudanese, expanding trade and investment, and exchanging ambassadors, and eventually, working to lift sanctions — if Sudanese leaders fulfill their obligations.

Now is the time for the international community to support Sudanese leaders who make the right choice.  Just as the African nations of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development rose to the challenge and helped the parties find a path to peace in 2005, all of us can do our part to ensure that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement is fully implemented.

We must promote dignity and human rights throughout all of Sudan, and this includes extending the mandate of the U.N.  independent expert of Sudan — because we cannot turn a blind eye to the violation of basic human rights.  And as I said, regardless of the outcome of the referenda, we must support development in southern Sudan, because people there deserve the same dignity and opportunities as anyone else.

And even as we focus on advancing peace between north and south, we will not abandon the people of Darfur.  The government of Sudan has recently pledged to improve security and living conditions in Darfur — and it must do so.  It need not wait for a final peace agreement.  It must act now to halt the violence and create the conditions — access and security — so aid workers and peacekeepers can reach those in need and so development can proceed.  Infrastructure and public services need to be improved.  And those who target the innocent — be they civilians, aid workers or peacekeepers — must be held accountable.

Progress toward a negotiated and definitive end to the conflict is possible.  And now is the moment for all nations to send a strong signal that there will be no time and no tolerance for spoilers who refuse to engage in peace talks.

Indeed, there can be no lasting peace in Darfur — and no normalization of relations between Sudan and the United States  — without accountability for crimes that have been committed.  Accountability is essential not only for Sudan’s future, it also sends a powerful message about the responsibilities of all nations that certain behavior is simply not acceptable in this world; that genocide is not acceptable.  In the 21st century, rules and universal values must be upheld.

I saw the imperative of justice when I visited one of the camps in Chad several years ago.  It was crowded with more than 15,000 people, most of them children.  What I saw in that camp was heartbreaking — families who had lost everything, surviving on aid.  I’ll never forget the man who came up to me — a former teacher who was raising his family of nine in that camp.  He looked at me and he said very simply, “We need peace.”  We need peace.

Your Excellencies — Vice President Taha, First Vice President Kiir — the Sudanese people need peace.  And all of us have come together today because the world needs a just and lasting peace in Sudan.

Here, even as we confront the challenges before us, we can look beyond the horizon to the different future that peace makes possible.  And I want to speak directly to the people of Sudan, north and south.  In your lives you have faced extraordinary hardship.  But now there’s the chance to reap the rewards of peace.  And we know what that future looks like.  It’s a future where children, instead of spending the day fetching water, can go to school — and come home safe.  It’s a future where families, back in their homes, can once again farm the soil of their ancestors.

It’s a future where, because their country has been welcomed back into the community of nations, more Sudanese have the opportunity to travel, more opportunity to provide education, more opportunities for trade.  It’s a future where, because their economy is tied to the global economy, a woman can start a small business, a manufacturer can export his goods, a growing economy raises living standards, from large cities to the most remote village.

This is not wide-eyed imagination.  This is the lesson of history — from Northern Ireland to the Balkans, from Camp David to Aceh — that with leaders of courage and vision, compromise is possible, and conflicts can be ended.  And it is the example of Africans — from Liberia to Mozambique to Sierra Leone — that after the darkness of war, there can be a new day of peace and progress.

So that is the future that beckons the Sudanese people — north and south, east and west.  That is the path that is open to you today.  And for those willing to take that step, to make that walk, know that you will have a steady partner in the United States of America.

Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

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Message from children in Nyala, Darfur

Last month we held our annual Global Kids youth conference at Baruch College, which brings together over 600 High School youth, educators and activists. The theme for this year’s conference was Children’s Rights. Our youth at Long Island City High School asked youth in Nyala to tell us what they would say if they were to attend our conference. In response, the popular education groups we’ve been communicating with got a group of children affiliated with their groups together, to discuss what message they would like to send to us and our 600+ audience that day, relating to their rights as children. Here is what they had to say (see below). Now, they want you to respond to their messages. Feel free to comment below or send us an email at gklic@globalkids.org which we will pass on to them. (The camera’s date is incorrect so please ignore, these pictures were sent to us in April of 2010 Also feel free to edit the translation.)

Here the children are workshoping what they are going to say

Their message: "“In order to build a healthy and humane society our participation and our voices are necessary.”

“We have the right to access education and health care. We also have the right to benefit from development, play and freedom of movement.”

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Elections in Sudan

I voted for the first time in my life yesterday, in the first Sudanese elections in 24 years. The first vote I ever cast was in an election that is rigged and predetermined. I debated whether I should even cast it because all the opposition candidates had pulled out, and there was so much evidence of foul play during the registration period and leading up to the elections, that it seemed pointless. I voted anyway, partly because my candidate was still on the ballot despite having pulled out, and because I wanted to exercise my right to vote against President Bashir and the ruling National Congress Party (NCP).

The main opposition candidates Yasir Arman running on the SPLM (Southern Peoples Liberation Movement ticket) and Sadiq al-Mahdi (former premier running on the Umma Party ticket) have pulled out of the elections because they felt that it was not going to be fair and that they needed more time to prepare. Opposition candidates were given 10 days to register and had to gather 15,000 signatures from 18 of Sudan’s 25 states in order to qualify. Those who managed to overcome this hurdle and qualify as candidates were then given only four 20 minutes campaign segments on the radio/TV leading up to the elections, while the ruling party reserved the equivalent of 23 hours total in the media leading up to the elections. In addition, the ruling party has used taxpayer money to conduct its campaign, whereas opposition candidates have had to draw on their own party funds, which are much more limited.  In general opposition parties were not given the space or opportunity to gather, educate and mobilize its constituencies. Instead they were subject to repressive security measures when they attempted to gather and mobilize. As a result, opposition candidates felt they needed more time to prepare for the elections and demanded that elections be postponed. Their demands were denied and despite all the evidence of foul play, elections began as scheduled on Sunday, April 11th. US special envoy to Sudan Scott Gration shortly before the elections began, even asserted that “They (the electoral commission members) have given me confidence that the elections will start on time and they would be as free and as fair as possible.” The reality on the ground tells a very different story.

On the ground in southern Darfur voter turnout and morale has been very low. It is estimated that 67% of all eligible voters in Darfur were actually registered and of those less than a third turned out to vote. Of those who did vote, many left the presidential ballot blank (which unfortunately could lead to ballots being manipulated) and voted only in municipal elections. For people in rural areas polling stations were simply to far to reach. Near Kalma displacement camp home to over 250,000 displaced Darfurians, people had to wait from 8 am to 4:30 pm for the ballot boxes to arrive. In other areas ballot boxes from Northern Darfur arrived in Southern Darfur prohibiting people from voting. In the town of Nyala, people reported intimidation and foul play at polling stations. In one incident, the ruling party had set up a booth to campaign about 40 meters away from the polling station, threatening some voters to cut off their electricity and water if they did not vote for them. In general, people have reported mass confusion with regard to figuring out how, when and where to vote and sense that people working at the polling stations are pro-ruling party and hence not neutral in their behavior towards voters.

Similarly, in Southern Sudan the SPLM (Southern People’s Liberation Movement)-which  has participated in the national government since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the North and South-has evidence that the Election commission is being run by the ruling party. As a result “delays in many polling centers due to technical and logistical issues has led to questioning of the fairness of the elections” according to a Southern Sudanese election observer in Wau, Southern Sudan. She reports that in Torit (Eastern Equatorial State) for instance, people went to polling centers to find that ballots for women’s lists were not delivered. In other polling stations throughout the country voting did not take place, because there were mistakes on the ballot and duplicate names on voters lists. In Wau county, Western Bahr el Ghazal she reports that names were missing from the voters lists and people were being turned away despite evidence that they had registered. In addition, illiterate voters have reported being coerced when asking for instructions on how to complete their ballots.

For people in Sudan and the diaspora, the circumstances surrounding these elections have been deeply disappointing and frustrating to say the least. Many of us feel that we were once again denied a fundamental right and were duped into believing that the Sudanese government was opening up the possibility for people to vote for change. On the other hand, during this process people have been organizing for change at the grassroots level, mobilizing people around the vote and courageously stepping into the public arena to demand change despite repressive backlash. In Darfur, the youth groups we have been supporting have been doing voter education and mobilization work, and have participated in organizing an independent civil society election observer mission. In Khartoum, a youth led movement called Girifna “We are fed up’ emerged during the registration period, mobilizing and organizing people to get out the vote. Young people in Sudan are courageously taking a stand and demanding change, which is inspirational. In both cases, I feel that their efforts have not been in vain because they are building a foundation for change from the bottom-up, which will remain and hopefully grow long after these sham elections are over.

Here is a link to a recent video documenting the work of the Girifna movement:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GxY35EAOe3c&feature=related

peace

nisrin

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Our youth in action…

Undesirable Elements performing on International Women's Day

Sudan Haiti solidarity panel

Our youth leaders at Long Island City High School in Queens have been very active over this past month. Beginning on International Women’s Day in early March, they participated and performed at an event organized by Friends of the Congo that celebrated women in the Congo, Sudan and Haiti. Our Undesirable Elements troupe performed a beautiful dance, spoken word piece highlighting the work of people who inspire them including Wangari Maathai (MP and leader of the environmentalist Green Belt Movement in Kenya). During the celebration we also moderated a panel which brought together Haitian women activists Edna Bonhomme and Alice Backer and Sudanese activists and human rights leaders Dr. Medina Dousa (Director of the Center for Women and Development in Nyala, Darfur) and Bushara Dousa (Director of Darfurian People’s Association of New York). Dr. Medina literally stepped off the plane from Sudan and graciously joined our discussion. The panel challenged the portrayal of Darfurians and Haitians as helpless victims in both crises and talked about their role in leading rebuilding, peace-building and survival efforts. They also placed both crises within a larger historical context and addressed the need for people on the ground to be more in control of the resources coming into their communities.

A few weeks later, our Global Kids youth leaders Jessica Garcia, Mayank Kumar and Sukhjinder Kaur led an interactive workshop at the New York Coalition of Radical Educators conference. They facilitated activities and discussions with elementary school teachers on how to do effective solidarity work with children and youth on the continent, using their work in Darfur as an example. The workshop was very well received and got people thinking about how they could link directly to schools and children in other contexts using a solidarity versus charity lens by creating opportunities for learning and giving on both ends of the connection.

Finally our GK leaders Jessica Garcia and Rumman Syed during a college tour in Washington DC, joined me on the WPWF radio show Blackademics last week, hosted by the wonderful Shani Jamila. They talked passionately about what solidarity work means to them and how listeners could get involved in meaningful actions in support of Sudanese people and their struggle for justice and peace. They were naturals on the radio and made powerful connections to their own lives as immigrant youth (El Salvador and Bangladesh) and the international solidarity they have been involved in or have witnessed in other places.

There is much more to come from our youth including an ideas exchange with youth in Sudan…stay tuned…

love

nisrin

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The Flip cameras are here…

A little over a week ago I asked you to donate to help us raise money to buy flip cameras to be delivered to three popular education theater and music groups in Nyala, Darfur: Astigha Al Tufula, Al Mashish and Tawasul Arts Group. While they arrived shortly after our contact left, the cameras are here!!!! There are two more women activists leaving for Darfur next month so they will be delivering them to these groups. The youth groups in Nyala will be using these cameras to document their performances, perspectives and opinions to share with wider audiences including our youth at Long Island City High School in Queens. We raised money for six cameras and ordered two extra ones on our own. Each of the groups will receive two cameras and the seventh will be donated to the community leadership council in Kalma camp, who in collaboration with an underground radio station are documenting human rights violations, perspectives and stories from within the displacement camps. We have donated our final extra camera to a very similar project in Haiti LAHAF (Lend a Hand and Foot to those on the ground in Haiti). Besides working on rebuilding a rehabilitation clinic with the Association of Haitian Physicians abroad, LAHAF aims to document the voices and perspectives of Haitians on the ground.

We are excited that thanks to you, we are able to support young people in Darfur to share their important stories and perspectives with the world. Your generosity has been amazing. I will share updates once the cameras arrive at their destination.

In deep gratitude,

nisrin

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Re-democratizing Development…

Click here for more photos.

A few months ago a friend and I found ourselves running through the streets of New York to deliver an envelope with $6000 in it to someone leaving for DC. A week later that same envelope had passed through a few trusted hands to finally arrive in the hands of the main coordinator of the Support Darfur Project in Nyala, Darfur. For the past few months she has worked tirelessly with community leaders in three of the displacement camps surrounding Nyala to implement projects they felt were most needed. To some this has meant building roofs, walls and floors for their community gathering space, for others creating income generating activities for youth by teaching them welding skills. Since December, for three hours a day, three days a week, youth have been learning how to become welders. Of those who have been trained as welders, eight have been able to generate income through their newly developed skills. Yet others are using the resources for educational activities or are in the process of training youth how to detect and disable buried hand grenades in coordination with a local organization. Some of the projects are now finished or established and our coordinator has sent pictures to prove it. The first set show the community gathering space where people come to learn, pray and meet in Direge camp before and after walls and floors have been added and roofs have been mended. The other set shows youth in action learning welding skills at a youth center in Otash camp. I will continue to update you as more reports, results and pictures come in…Please click here to see these pictures.

Know that our Support Darfur coordinator in Nyala to this day has refused to take a penny for the work she has been doing. Know too that as a young female, human rights activist and radio journalist she puts herself at risk on a regular basis going in and out of the camps. She feels that such few resources trickle down to those who most need it, that she wants 100% of your donations to reach the displaced communities she works with. She also believes asking communities what they need and addressing those needs allows people to slowly regain a sense of control and power over their lives, that has been stolen from them. I was at a Food Justice talk last night during which Eric Holt-Gimenez co-author of the book Food Rebellions: Crisis and the Hunger for Justice talked about the need to re-democratize our food systems; to reclaim them from the monopoly that is Agro-business. The same holds true for the field of Development. It needs to be re-democratized. People need to be given the power to control how and where resources that are coming into their communities are being used in order to break legacies of neo-colonialism and exploitation.

Finally, our coordinator feels that involving youth in income generating activities and projects begins to fill an important gap in services for youth in the displacement camps. I hope you like me, feel inspired by the process she has opened up and by the fruits it has started to produce..Thank you for entrusting me and her with your donations. They will continue to have an impact on the ground and I will continue to update you of proof of it.

In gratitude,

nisrin

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