Four summers ago, I first learned about Darfur from the halls of Congress as a lowly intern. If you would have told me back then that the conflict would still be ravaging, and even worsening, four years later, I would not have believed you. But, at the same time, I probably wouldn’t have even gotten involved in Darfur activism. I always thought this would be a temporary gig; there’d be no reason to spend four years trying to end genocide.
As we get ready to enter the refugee camps, I’d be lying if I said the time and energy hasn’t worn on me. I’m no longer the bushy-eyed activist who believed that our government would act quickly and efficiently to end the atrocities. It’s been an incredibly frustrating road, one that quickly sees successful bills passed and money raised turn into heightened attacks and restriction on humanitarian aid. With this in mind, it would be easy to give up, easy to cast Sudan as an inherently complex, insolvable conflict that the international community simply won’t take arms to stop. And yes, some days I buy into this deep cynicism.
But that would be a mistake. Because the reality is that this fight is not about us, and we really have no legitimate right to be fatigued. The fact is that Darfur, is a very paradoxical manner, has provided us with a chance we really don’t deserve. An entire four years after Congress declared genocide in Darfur, we can still end the atrocities. We can still save lives. There are hundreds of thousands of refugees who have refused to quit fighting, and who still believe in our potential to help them withstand this terrible crisis.
I think that’s why I’m so anxious to get to the camps. It’s easy for me to stand back and pledge defeatism after four years of activism. But how can I do that after meeting people that have suffered through a lot more than I have, people that continue their fight in the midst of every type of adversity? So, no, this i-ACT trip won’t stop genocide on its own. And in the incredible complexity that is Darfur, we probably will experience pitfalls despite our successes. But through this trip, I hope we can shine light on the reason that we can’t, and won’t stop fighting; the people. While they are alive, while they are fighting, so must we. And so, as this trip begins, I once again renew my idealism. And I hope you will too.