Today I attended my colleague Tene’s son’s 1st birthday party. His name is Kamau and besides being the cutest one year old I currently know is also the youngest international solidarity activist I know. Why? His family decided to make small chocolate lollipops as party favors for people to take home with a note attached that reads:
“Thank you for joining in the celebration of Kamau’s Birthday, We believe ALL children should have the support and love to grow up healthy and happy. That’s why we have donated to Stories from Darfur. If you’re interested in donating and finding out more visit http://www.storiesfromdarfur.wordpress.com. Donations raised will be used to support grassroots initiatives for people young and old who live in displacement camps around Nyala, Darfur.”
The beauty of this action and gesture is that it is coming directly from the hearts and lives of one family and their friends in Brooklyn, NY to the hearts and lives of other families and communities in Nyala, Darfur. There is no pretense that one is saving the other but rather that people gathering to celebrate a birthday here in New York have decided to stand in solidarity with Darfurians to support the grassroots efforts and initiatives for survival, community building, education and income generation that are already taking place by and for Darfurians themselves.
The inherent belief that all human beings have a right to live on this earth in health, happiness, security and peace went into making these party favors for people to take home and with them I think a sense of responsibility to try to act as best as we can in our lifetimes to ensure that this is true for people in our own communities as well as beyond our own borders and comfort zones. I am really touched by my friend’s gesture, by the legacy she is building for her son and by all the other acts of solidarity I have had the privilege of witnessing since returning from Darfur. Whether its been people encouraging their friends and family to donate their zakat money to Darfur and other solidarity causes, people talking to their friends and families about this project at weddings and workplaces its been nothing short of amazing and humbling.