Making the Grades
My mother is a passionate seamstress. Over her lifetime, she's made hundreds, if not thousands, of toys, quilts and items of clothing for humanitarian aid. What does that have to do with Darfur? On the surface not much. Yet, like the individuals in this film, she exhibits a passion for making the world a better place by using her skills.
For many of us, the mass killings in Sudan are little more than a 30 second sound bite on the evening news or a few paragraphs in the world section of the paper, but for the six personalities highlighted in Darfur Now, the conflict is forefront in their lives. And they've committed themselves to promoting peace in the war-ravaged region of Africa.
After members of Janjaweed fighters despoiled her village, Hejewa Adam, a Darfurian woman arms herself and enlists with the Sudanese Liberation Army. Ahmed Mohammed Abaker, a man forced into a refugee camp, takes a hand in organizing the displaced persons who flock to the makeshift encampment. On the other side of the world, a UCLA student activist, Adam Sterling, starts a grassroots campaign to call attention to the problem and initiates a bill in the California legislature. Oscar-nominated actor Don Cheadle draws awareness to the plight of the Sudanese people while on the red carpet and with a friend, John Prendergast, pens a book on the crisis. In The Hague, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, an Argentinean lawyer, serves as Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court charged with investigating and prosecuting those accused of genocide. Finally Pablo Recalde, a United Nations humanitarian, coordinates food distribution convoys bringing relief to those in the area.
Attacking the issue from various angles, the documentary brings to light additional obstacles caused by foreign oil investment, diplomatic relations and corrupt politicians. But for those dedicated to righting the wrongs of war, the answer is to increase public awareness and encourage more people to speak up.
Burning villages, decaying bodies and gun-toting guerillas along with some graphic commentary on rape and killing make the film too intense for younger audiences. But for teens and adults, the documentary offers some valuable discussion points, including the use of democratic procedure and humanitarian aid. However the most worthwhile message is the call for involvement.
While not everyone may feel drawn to the crisis in Sudan, the world has plenty of needs; illiteracy, homelessness, health, education, family issues, political problems. Vowing to take action for a cause is one way each of us can improve the world we live in -- even if it's just one stitch at a time.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Darfur Now.
What causes Adam’s change of attitude about student activism? How does he involve others in his cause? How does he use the democratic process?
Should celebrities use their status to make political statements? What other actors are known for their activism?
What causes do you feel strongly about? How can you get involved? For more information on Darfur go to this site: http://www.myspace.com/darfurnow