Saturday, May 06, 2006

Letter from the Save Darfur Coalition

This letter reinforces what I have been saying here - that the recent news is good, but that we must not let down our pressure. We are on the verge of stopping genocide and saving my friends and history will judge us by our actions in this moment.
Dear Scott ,

I have some good news to report! Earlier today, the Sudanese government and two of the main Darfur rebel factions signed a peace agreement to end three years of fighting that has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced millions from their homes.

This is only the first step toward ending the violence in Darfur and putting a stop to the tragic genocide.

You and others have sent over 800,000 Million Voices postcards to President Bush. And just a day after over 50,000 rallied on the National Mall in Washington, and thousands joined rallies in cities across the country, President Bush dispatched Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick to the peace talks.

You helped make the issue of genocide in Darfur a top priority for the Bush Administration.

The momentum is building and we can make a difference!

Click here to tell your friends and family about our campaign. And thank President Bush for his leadership so far - but let him know there is more work still to be done.

The peace agreement has been signed, but we must make sure that both sides live up to the terms. The millions of men, women, and children who have been displaced or have had their lives rocked by violence will not know peace until the government and the rebels live up to theses agreed terms.

The Bush Administration must continue to play a leading role.

On a more personal note, I am incredibly grateful to the Save Darfur Coalition staff, our volunteers, member organizations and all of you for your incredible efforts over the past weeks and months. Each of you helped us reach this historic point - but it is only the first step.

As we continue the fight, there will be many more opportunities for you take action and help make a difference.

Best regards,

David Rubenstein
Save Darfur Coalition

NEWS: Sudan may accept UN troops

This is once again a promising step towards the reclamation of the lives of these people. For months, the Sudanese government has rejected the notion of foreign UN troops on its soil. The fact that they say it is now possible is very good - but we all know that words are far different from actual actions. This conflict has a history of failed peace deals and two of the rebel groups still have not signed this latest one.

UN troops are desperately needed and so is international pressure. The stakes are EXTREMELY high right now and if we ease the pressure, we are permitting more deaths to occur. We must continue to put pressure on the US and UN to lead the way to take care of the 2.5 million displaced people. Go to to participate in the Million Voices for Darfur Campaign.

U.N. troops all clear for Darfur

Find this encouraging article by clicking here.


Friday, May 05, 2006

How to catch an African bat

For hours of fun on warm, desert evenings look no farther than a pair of pantyhose.

In the Sub-Sahara, where the nights are pitch black and the silence is only broken by the occasional braying of a donkey, evenings can be pretty dull. Most families gather around the fire or oil-fired lantern to tell stories or simply chat. With no primetime TV to distract them, families grow close together. Often, I would go sit on the edge of my cement porch and bury my feet into the cool sand. I would look up to the sky and see the brilliance that is unveiled in the absence of city lights. And then, I would hear the flutter of wings and see the brief flash of fur dart across the sky - bats!

A young friend of mine showed me how to catch bats without hurting them. I will share the secret recipe for fun with you here.

1 old pantyhose, without large holes
1 medium-sized rock

*Place the rock into the pantyhose and let it drop until it is down in the toe. Then, swing it around and around, gaining momentum. At the right moment, release it so that the pantyhose flies high into the night sky. Then, simply wait. Once the pantyhouse and rock drop back to earth, chances are you will have caught yourself a bat.

The trick is that bats use sonar to track down flying insects to eat. Their sonar resonates off of the rock in the pantyhouse and so they attack it. Their claws get stuck in the fabric and they are pulled by the rock back down to earth. At this point, because bats are not good for anything other than catching, you would pick it up, release its claws and let it go. Then, repeat.

Disclaimer: While this does not harm bats - be careful about getting rabies! Use gloves to remove them to be safe.

NEWS: Darfur rebels 'agree to peace deal'

Here is a very promising news report from BBC. This peace deal, if signed by all parties, could have the potential to pave the way for increased security and aid in Darfur. However - there is one key party missing from the talks. That is the Janjaweed. The Sudanese gov't continually denies suporting them or helping them and if this is true, then what good is a peace deal without the warring parties?

My greatest fear is that the international community will sit back on their heels after this deal is signed and say, "We've done our part." The truth is, millions of my friends are still dying from starvation, have lost their homes and families have been torn apart. The victims will still be there after a deal is signed and any deal should include vast provisions for the restoration of the Darfur people.


Darfur rebels 'agree to peace deal'
The largest rebel group in Sudan's Darfur region has agreed to sign a peace deal with the government.
The breakthrough came when SLM leader Minni Minnawi returned to the talks, following a late-night session.
However, two smaller groups say they are not happy with the terms of the deal on offer. The government has also agreed to sign.
International negotiators say the deal is the best hope for peace in Darfur, where 2m people have fled their homes.
The BBC's Alex Last, who is at the talks in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, says a huge round of applause was heard shortly after Mr Minnawi returned to the talks.
"I accept the document with some reservations concerning the power sharing," Mr Minnawi said.
Pro-government Janjaweed militia to be disarmed
Rebel fighters to be incorporated into army
One-off transfer of $300m to Darfur
$200m a year for the region thereafter
One of his officials told the Reuters news agency that the SLM wanted more seats in parliament but had agreed to the deal to end the suffering of the people in Darfur.
But the smallest rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement (Jem), insists that it still wants fundamental changes to the document.
The group's chief negotiator, Ahmed Tugod, reiterated the rebels' demands for the post of vice-president in the Khartoum government and for Darfur to have a greater share of national wealth.
"We decided not to sign it unless changes are made," he said.
The larger Sudanese Liberation Movement (SLM) is divided into two factions.
The smaller faction, led by Abdelwahid Muhamed El Nur, refuses to sign.
"We need the document to be improved upon," he said.
Our correspondent says mediators are now hoping Mr Minnawi will be able to persuade the two other rebel groups to change their minds.
But our correspondent says that looks doubtful.
Mediators have said this will be the last attempt to secure a peace deal for the three-year-old Darfur conflict, which has claimed some 200,000 lives and displaced more than two million people.
The rebels took up arms in 2003, accusing the government of discriminating against the black African residents of Darfur.
Pro-government Arab militia then launched a campaign, described as "genocide" by the US.
The Sudan government denies backing the Janjaweed militias accused of the worst atrocities, such as mass killing, rape and looting.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2006/05/05 10:30:42 GMT


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Welcome to this living document

I can no longer sit in my home in Florida content to read about events occurring in the land where I grew up - Africa. I must tell my own stories. The media can only show the results of the genocide in Darfur, but I can show the world what the people are like before they become victims.

Perhaps my ability to tell stories, combined with your ability to stir up support, will play some part in helping save my friends over there.

Check back here for more later.