Holiday déjà vu

Dear Friends:g_ih_e_rahma.jpg

It was my task to write something about the holidays and relate the meaning and experience of the holidays to the lives of our friends in the refugee camps. As I stare at the blank Word Doc, instead of the spirit of Christmas coming over me, what I get is this overwhelming feeling of déjà vu!

It just feels like I’ve said “this” already, and said it many, many times: “There are people that are suffering, and they are just like us. They are the victims of humanity’s most horrible crime, genocide. There is joy in participating compassionately in a community that extends across oceans and continents.”

Over the last five years, my experience of the holidays has changed drastically. It means a lot more…and a lot less. When I’m sitting with my kids and family, this alone is the meaning of the holidays. It has become a very simple and basic experience, where I don’t let the rest of the noise get to me. It’s about family and community.

Should we think about genocide dfatne_and_ktj_-_serious.jpguring a time of joy and celebration? Yes. I can assure you that our friends in the camps are thinking about us, and they have us in their prayers.

For the few of you that read this, I ask for one simple holiday gift…or maybe two. First, write one sentence or a short paragraph, speaking directly to our refugee friends and post it as a comment. We will take these to camps with us on our next trip in the beginning of 2010. You have no idea how powerful it is for them to feel connected to you and to a community “out there” that is thinking of them and working on their behalf. Second, pledge to check back in with us in January. We’ll work together to make some serious noise and push our leaders to act decisively to finally bring peace, protection, and justice to Darfur and all of Sudan.

Peace,

Gabriel for the SGN/i-ACT Team

Gabriel co-founded Stop Genocide Now in 2005, which gave birth to i-ACT in 2009.

He became involved in the situation in Darfur out of a sense of personal responsibility. He believes the power of community and compassion, combined with personal empowerment, can bring about meaningful change.

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13 Responses to “Holiday déjà vu”
  1. Marv Steinberg says:

    We were on the Sundial Bridge again tonight, praying for all of the people of Darfur and especially for those in Camp Kounoungo. There weren’t as many as usual–too many other holiday events going on. But we remembered the genocide and will continue our monthly vigils in Redding, CA. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with all of the displaced in Sudan.

  2. Gabriel says:

    Marv, thank you. You and your group have been consistently “THERE” for the people of Darfur. We need more people like you and the others in Redding that keep fighting for our friends in Darfur.

  3. Sonia Katchian says:

    The suffering your families have gone through and are still going through is in our hearts and minds as we enter the season of celebration of Christ’s birth. Though our actions have thus far not brought you out of your misery, we will continue to act on your behalf. May God watch over you in these extreme times. On behalf of your brothers and sisters in North Carolina,

    Sonia Katchian

  4. Roz Slovic says:

    To our friend in Darfur,
    We are always thinking of you and want you to know that our thoughts are with you. We have for over 4 years been talking to many people about you – citizens and politicians too asking for their help for you. We hope that 2010 will bring peace and happiness to you.

    Roz Slovic and the Lane County (Oregon) Darfur Coalition

  5. Britten says:

    For the dearest mothers, fathers, and children in Darfur,

    I send all my love to you. Look up to the Heavens and know that Christ is watching over you… he is listening to you and your prayers as well as mines for you. He IS with you.

  6. Reuben says:

    Dear Brothers and Sisters of Darfur,
    I have never forgotten you! I have demonstrated for you in front of the Federal Government Building in Los Angeles, I have carried signs asking drivers-by not to forget you. I have prayed for you in church. And, I have asked God, on my knees, to bring you the peace and return to your homes that you all deserve as you basic human rights. Still, the world does little! But, I pray to a God who has the whole world in the palm of His hands. And, as I write with a heavy heart at Christmas when there is no peace and little joy in the world, I send you love and wishes for peace in your land and in your hearts. You are not forgotten! As long as you are victimized by the forces of evil that isolate you from your homes, I will keep you in my heart and in my pleading that God would restore you even beyond what you had before your great pain. MAY GOD BLESS EACH AND EVERYONE OF YOU NOW, AT RAMADAN, AND IN THE FUTURE.

  7. Azra says:

    As salaamu alaykum dear brothers and sisters,

    i truly apologize for our leaders unwillingness to stop the war in Darfur. i am very disappointed with all the leaders of the world. they all know too well what is really going on in Darfur and nothing significant has been done to help you. all these years. we know that you only ask for so minimal and simple things in life that everyone on the Planet needs: water+food+peace+roof above their head and education for our kids.

    we really need to use different approach to communicate to our leaders.
    another way i know is ~ to stop being a consumer during or after holiday or any given time of the year!
    i only buy food. this is my way. hope more people will join me in this, too.
    holidays are great time to stop shopping. what Gabriel said is so true. holidays are when u spend time with family in peace and freedom. no need to wrap a gift. just your time and your beautiful heart.
    small is beautiful!
    lets be the change we want to see in the world!
    peace now please!

  8. Kleah says:

    Dear Darfuri friends,

    How delightful to see your beautiful faces! We think about you and your lives everyday; holiday times are no different. Yes, holiday time is for gathering with family and friends; it is also a time for reflection and how we spend our time. Please know that we continue to work toward significant agreements that will assure a more solid path toward your freedom and healthy lives for your children. May 2010 bring these steps and continued strength as we walk together —

    kleah

  9. Pam B says:

    Dear Brothers and Sisters,
    You are always in our thoughts and inspire the work we do to protect human rights for all people everywhere.
    My family sends our hopes for peace and home for you in 2010,
    Pam

  10. Phyllis -SaveDarfur South Palm Beach says:

    Dear Darfuris,

    For five years we have worked to bring attention to the genocide. We have not stopped our effort to raise awareness and money to help all those driven from their homes into refugee camps. Currently we are working to raise money to help build a school in Darfur and hoping we will be successful. We meet weekly to discuss what more we can do to stop this atrocity. We hope this will end soon and everyone can return to there homes. We will not give up trying. Peace to you in 2010!

    SaveDarfur South Palm Beach

  11. Brian Harper says:

    I have been participating in activism against the genocide in Darfur for a few years now, but it was not until recently when I made my first trip overseas that I discovered how to have a heartfelt connection with people from a faraway land with backgrounds vastly different from my own. Though I was nowhere near Darfur (I was in South Africa), I finally learned the meaning of that simple phrase–we are all the same. As I see photographs and videos that Gabriel and the team took of you, I see people with families and dreams like mine. God bless you, know that you are in my thoughts and prayers, and know that though I am one, I will continue to do what I can to ensure that this genocide comes to an end.

  12. Diane Gandee Sorbi says:

    Please know that you are never forgotten. I think of you often, my Darfuri brothers and sisters. I pray that 2010 will finally bring you peace and security. Blessings to all of you this holiday season and always.

  13. Heidi says:

    My attention was brought to Darfurs cause when I saw something about someone fasting for Darfur. There are people thinking of you and my heart goes out to you. I have heard your stories. My heart has broken to see the inhumanity of man towards you. As brothers and sisters we need to stand TOGETHER, not apart. I donate regularly to my church specifically for the people of Darfur.The first video I saw that had to do with Darfur was of Adam, and it showed me how resiliant, and how hopeful your people are. Keep that hope, we are praying and rallying for you, our human family. We love you, and cry with you because of the injustice. I hope some day you all can be back where you belong, in a safe place with your loved ones around you. I will be praying for you, and for PEACE.

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