I am about to embark on a journey to Sudan, my native country and I’d like to take you with me virtually. This blog will be my main vehicle for communication from now on.
In a few weeks, I along with two or three others will be traveling to Darfur to pursue a documentation project. I will hopefully be joined by award-winning South African filmmaker Kurt Orderson (visas and funding pending) and a close family friend who is from Darfur and lives in a displacement camp near the capital Khartoum.
We will be interviewing people living and struggling against the humanitarian crisis that has been unfolding: survivors of the genocide, grassroots leaders, activists and organizers, teachers, doctors, local and international NGO workers, civil servants, business people, government officials, journalists etc…The aim of the project is not to duplicate documentation that has already occurred but rather to look at how people are struggling against the crisis. What do they consider to be the roots of this conflict and how do they think they need to be addressed structurally? How are they rebuilding their lives, organizing their communities, reviving traditional methods of conflict resolution, creating new livelihoods and educational opportunities for instance? How do they envision the future for Darfur and Sudan and their community’s role in it? While documentation projects of what is happening in Darfur have been powerful and deep, many have limited Darfurians to telling personal stories and testimonies of survival and do not give people the space to analyze and define how they think change can happen. Too often change within this context has been defined by outsiders.
Of course, there are many Sudanese led efforts formal and informal, which are creating positive social change as we speak. Some of these efforts are harder to document than others, but that is the task that lies ahead for us. Ultimately we hope to use the interview material and footage to create a curriculum workshop for high school students around the United States in collaboration with Facing History and Ourselves that will allow students to learn about these efforts and if inspired can support them.
Some of the material will also be used for a creative project, a play or book that will ultimately serve the same purpose, which is to raise funds and resources for grassroots Sudanese led organizations and efforts creating positive social change in Darfur.
The logistics of the project:
While this has been many years in the making conceptually as a dream it is all coming together faster than expected because a unique opportunity has arisen for us to travel to Sudan starting on the 25th of July to the 27th of August, 2009. Ideally we would have more time to plan out the logistics but we are also looking at this as an ongoing project.
What I am asking from you?:
I am kindly asking for your support in the following areas:
1. Donations of flip cameras, video cameras and recording materials
2. Potential media connections, which might be interested in this project
3. Connections within the NGO community doing work in Darfur
4. Potential grant or fellowship opportunities we could apply for pre or post travel to cover some of our costs
5. Potential organizations that might be interested in collaborating with us
Last but not least you can make a cash donation if you wish. We do not have a fiscal sponsor yet so for now you can make a secure donation online through paypal. By clicking on the DONATE HERE button on the blog.
These funds will be used to purchase equipment, pay my Darfurian friend a stipend and the rest will go towards projects in Darfur and in Darfurian communities in Khartoum which I have already established a connection with.
Please feel free to forward the link to this blog widely.
Thank you so much for your support.
In gratitude and love,