Seeking Empathy - A One Month Refugee Diet

Eric’s Journal – Day 3

Today is the 3rd day of my refugee diet. I’m sitting at my desk at work eating my lunch of a 1/2 cup of cracked wheat and a teaspoon of sugar. I cooked it on the stove this morning while I got ready for work, and reheated it in the microwave. This morning I watched an i-ACT video profiling a young Darfuri refugee named Ahmat. He proudly describes the life his family lived back in Darfur — eating meat, owning camels and goats, playing football and riding bicycles. This is an important message for people to get: the people of Darfur were self-sufficient and happy with the life they had back in Darfur. I have talked to people that do not know any better and think that all of Africa is full of misery and that the suffering in Darfur is just a continuation of it. My message to them is to please stop and take some time to learn about what life was like in Darfur before this genocide was unleashed. Watch and listen to Ahmat:

A diet of only wheat and split-peas is NOT what Darfurians ate in their villages before they were bombed, attacked, murdered, raped and burned down. They ate vegetables, meat, grains, fruit — the same variety of foods that you and I eat. I have only been on this diet for 2 1/2 days now, but I’m already finding myself uninterested in my food and having little desire to eat it. My hunger tells my brain that I need it, but my stomach protests and pretends to be full. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be forced to go from having a rich and varied diet to these bland rations. For me this is a choice, and although I continue to choose to abstain from the wealth of food that surrounds me, I still have the comfort of knowing that it is always at my reach, and that it will still be there at the end of this month waiting for me. The refugees like Ahmat do not have this same comfort. For some of the younger children, this is what they have known their whole life. Yet they continue to keep hope alive and believe that the world, and the United States especially, will come to their rescue. But it has been over 5 years and we continue to let them down and let the genocide continue both by attrition through starvation and through bold new attacks on refugee camps.

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