Day 10: Jan 28, 2008

To the Upstanders

Dear friends,

If you are still with us all this while, thank you. I know from our website statistics that we aren’t directly reaching tens of thousands of people. But at the same time, I take heart in knowing that those we are reaching – you – are the “real deal”. When the friends we meet in Chad say that their hopes lie with the international community, and often the American people in particular, they are really talking about YOU. The true upstanders. The ones who have grasped the hands of Adam, Adef, Fatna, Guisma, Alhafis, and won’t let go. The ones who persevere despite the continued failure of those who have the power to protect and restore.

Adef's family 2

Failure is not a word people like to hear, but I think that when the stakes are this high, honesty is crucial. Honesty with one another, and with ourselves. Are we doing enough? Are we reaching enough people? Are we just touching them once, or bringing them on-board for the long haul? Are there ideas we have that we haven’t taken seriously enough? Are there gaps we see in existing activism that we think are important to fill? Do we ourselves know enough about Darfur and about Sudan?

It makes me uncomfortable when people say that our efforts to end the genocide in Darfur aren’t wasted; that at least, we are laying groundwork that will help prevent the next genocide. Sorry, but I don’t quite feel ready to “look on the bright side” yet. We haven’t given this our best shot.

Friends, let us ask ourselves if we are truly rising to the challenge at hand. Let us hold ourselves accountable, just like we hold our leaders accountable. Let us petition ourselves, rally ourselves, to become the most effective counter-genocide force the world has ever seen. i-ACT and so many other projects started with small steps taken by ordinary people like you and me. We didn’t know where it would go. We just felt that it made sense, and we knew that if not us, then who? Each project can have major impact, but there is only so much that a small group can do. Imagine there were a hundred projects, driven solely by the hopes and dreams of the Darfuri people. Personally connected with Darfuri communities. Constantly sharing information and working together. I’m sure their combined impact would be much more than a hundred times one.

If you want to bounce a project idea off us, are starting a project, or already have one running, please tell us about it by posting a comment or sending email to We want to help projects connect with each other, and offer what we can to help your work.


9 replies on “To the Upstanders”

Hi, Gabe and all of the stop genocide team!!!!
There is a project I have in mind that seems to make sense in the world we live in. For a little while now I have been trying to connect consumer groups to develop a sort of alliance of socially responsible consumer groups to centralize and make more easy being socially responsible.
The concept is that the overwhelming majority of people don’t do things unless the see some personal benefit. In reality, doing things to stop genocide or other socially responsibility actions does do something for everyone personally. Suffice it to say that it makes the world a safer place for us and our children. Of course, it is also our moral duty as human beings to do our best to stop the genocide and other atrocities. But, most people still wont do anything for such causes unless it involves the least amount of effort. They live in this rat race, continuously trying to get ahead and still try to take better and better care of themselves. This is why whole foods and trader joes have spread like wild fire, while the human rights and other such movements don’t really. At the same time activists like ourselves rightfully spread ourselves thin with more important but less popular pursuits.
If there was some organization or network of organizations that could serve a selfish purpose such as improved consumerism, while at the same time making it easy for a person to take action by identifying products at the same time that have socially responsible issues, the enormous potential power of the American consumer could be released. If anyone is interested in this project please contact me at…….Thanks,
Peace in Darfur, Tony

Hi I-Act and Stop Genocide Now Team,
I am writing from Atlanta, GA where I have a group fo 4th and 5th graders that have become very passionate about the helping the people of Darfur. These students have devoted a lot of time over the past 2-3 years to help. So far they have raised over $1300 and spread the word to thousands of people on the Atlatna community about the atrocities occurring in Darfur. The students have conducted a “Dimes for Darfur” and a “Dance for Darfur” fundraiser. This summer they wrote and performed a play about Darfur and we are currently working on a “Dinner for Darfur” to inculde the student’s play and a silent auction. I was also trying to establish some sort of penpal program with the students here in Atlanta and students in Darfur to build that connection and help both groups learn more about eachother. Any assistance in these areas would be greatly appreciated. I am truly amazed at the work my students have been doing and believe in the power of people coming together for a common cause.

Thanks for all that you do to help in the struggle!

Selina Coleman

dear Katie-jay

I’m a student from Ackerman Middle school in canby oregon U.S.A. I have a couple questions for you…

1. If Ackerman could do something for the children in Africa attending school what would it be?

2. Why do you think that in the class of 12 students, there is only one girl?

3. Do you feel sad being in a country where there is so many homeless and foodless families that have lost so much?

Well those are my questions. I wish you and your group the best of luck and can’t wait to see you back in Oregon.

Dear Chelsea!
Thanks for your questions! We are currently beginning to raise funds for secondary schools and teachers for Kounoungo! If Ackerman wanted to get involved in helping do so, your efforts would go towards the building, teachers, textbooks, notebooks, and pens. Beyond that it’s not just a school you would be helping, it would be the future of an entire community! Also, Ackerman could connect with a community over here in March when we come. You all could create a video of your efforts and messages of peace and we could show them here in the camps. There is only one girl in class 12 for two reasons. The first many times they get married at a young age or have to work to help take care of their family. Secondly, many people believe there is not much use in finishing their primary school classes when there is nothing to continue on to. I think a lot about what I have and compare it to what I see here. We have so much in the States, but really what I can do is focus on my own consumption habits and work to help facilitate more abundance in places like Chad. Thanks again for your comment and questions. Please keep up your commitment.

Hi, Yuen-Lin!

Thanks for making a much-needed centralized collection point for project ideas and news of ongoing campaigns/events. I also think SGN needs more attention, e.g., increased media coverage (TV, radio, print and Web news sources), SGN website link being posted on other anti-genocide websites, anything to get “i-ACTivism” to become a buzz word!

Maybe we can launch a strong “Five for Five” campaign to get people to recognize that five years of acknowledged genocide is atrocious, and is five too many for our promise of “never again.” We all need to do our “five for five”: Find five people to educate/recruit as advocates; five government leaders to contact; five flyers to post; five newspapers to send an editorial or op-ed; five dollars to donate to this crisis; five books to read/share regarding genocide; five postcards to send out with refugee photos/artwork pictures; five prayers each day; 5K walks or other fundraisers; five dolls for “Reach for Change” campaign; five letters to Olympic sponsors; five schools to participate in i-ACT Forward; five canvas tiles for Tents for Hope, etc.

Sending five hugs to share,

Lisa and family
San Antonio

Hey Lisa!
This is a great idea! Team – everyone in the community – let’s run with this “Five for Five!” Five years is too long! And doing 5 things just isn’t that hard…I like it…let’s start with the postcards….get them printed – 5 for 5….get 5 people to send 5 postcards…to donate 5 dollars, to call 5 times, to tell one story to 5 friends….
Great idea!!!!

Hello KTJ!

I am a 7th grade student at Ackerman Middle school in Canby, Oregon, USA. My geography class is watching your videos and reading your blog posts in class everyday! It’s great reading your progress and learning about what you you are doing. I remember meeting you at my school and listening to you talk about Darfur, it was a great experience and hope when you get back in the Portland area, you can come back and share your adventure in Chad. Ackerman is really interested in this subject, just today in my geography class we were thinking of ways to help people in Darfur. I do however, have a question for you. How does working in Darfur make you feel? Im sure its probably mixed feelings as for your happy and excited to be helping and doing all you can, but on the other hand, a bit sad and depressed on seeing all these people in destress and needing help. I would love to hear from you back!

Thank you so much for all you are doing.

Good luck and stay strong.

-Kelley Burckhard

Greetings Kelley!
Thank you so much for watching and brainstorming about Darfur! These posts are going to be a little late since we have been without internet for a while and I am catching up! Working in Eastern Chad with Darfuri people motivates and inspires me to continue working for a peaceful Darfur. It is hard at times to see their living conditions but their hopes and dreams and smiles make it all worth it.

Wow. Its so funny that you should send an email like this one. I have been thinking a lot about this latelyl and have had an idea that I’ve been trying to share with several organizations for Darfur, in hopes something might happen with it. I didn’t know how to get it to your org before, so I just didn’t. But this is perfect!

So here it is…
I think if we could get enough people to go to the United Nations headquarters in New York and camp out in front of their building in protest, we could prove to them how seriously we want change. We would certainly get media attention and hopefully we would coerce the United Nations to greater accountability in Darfur. I do not think we should have people go for just a day, but to stay there as long as they are capable or willing (until we see REAL change in Darfur). I know this is asking a lot and requires sacrifice, but it is worth it when you think of the sacrifices the Darfurians have already made (against their will), the incredible suffering they have bore over the past five years. How can we go on living our normal lives when they no longer have such a choice?

This would have to be a combined effort with lots of people. So let me know what you think!

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