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Looking in on Darfur and Uganda

If you drop in on this blog every so often, you know Darfur and northern Uganda are of concern. It is my firm belief that God’s ancient call for his people to speak up for those suffering injustice and unable to speak for themselves urgently applies to us today. We must not only cry out for justice but also act for the people trying to survive this very day in these two regions of Africa.

Thankfully, the media has picked up on these humanitarian crises and is running articles about them often (including several well-done, moving pieces). Recently, the NY Times ran Truce is talk, agony is real in Darfur war, which reports that attacks in Darfur continue even though a cease fire between the Sudan government and at least one major rebel group went into affect a couple of weeks ago. Last Sunday, the NY Times ran an op-ed that underscores this reality, pointing out that we have a small window of opportunity to bring peace to that region—and that window is shrinking. I’m not savvy enough to know if the solutions the writer lists are the right ones (hence, my prayer all along has been that God will raise the right people with the right solutions to the foreground), but I echo his call that we not only speak out about the crisis but also act by supporting organizations providing aid and relief to Darfur—and I’d add World Vision to his list of relief organizations. Speaking of World Vision, their web site gives us a short but good snapshot of the effect of the conflict on ordinary people—in this case, students who are struggling to take exams in Darfur while the conflict goes on.

Regarding Uganda, the Seattle Times ran an opinion piece written by Renee Stearns (whose husband is president of World Vision) who recently returned from a visit to Northern Uganda: Averting our eyes from African horror. Well done. And, running with the theme of supporting organizations that provide aid and relief to these regions, check out Mennonite Central Committee’s recent articles in their May/June issue of A Common Place. Also a world relief organization, MCC has significant and life-changing work going on in northern Uganda. Here’s a first hand account of a child abducted by the LRA and some photos from MCC’s work in that region. The best article in that recent issue, however, isn’t yet available online. “A Tapestry Torn” tells us the story of one family who recently left a camp for displaced people in northern Uganda and returned to their home after MCC supplied them with hoes, a machete and seeds to replant their fields. (I’ll try to remember to place a link when it comes online—it’s one of the more hopeful articles I’ve read in some time.) For another hope-full story, read World Vision’s piece about a young, formally abducted girl who is reunited with her son in a World Vision Children of War Center after she escaped.

So, does learning about what’s happening in these regions actually affect people’s actions in this country? Heck, yeah. After researching the crisis in Uganda, some Miami Dade College students send words of hope to the kids who escaped the LRA. Tens of thousands of people turned out for Invisible Children’s Global Night Communte (including a friend of this blog). These are only a couple of examples—and there’s plenty of things you can do to help. Consider buying one of Invisible Children’s bracelets, which are hand-made in Uganda to raise money for children suffering in the northern part of that country. Invisible Children then uses the money raised to put children through school and create jobs in an unemployable war area. At the very least, consider signing World Vision’s online declaration “deploring the abuse of children forced by rebels to become soldiers, in northern Uganda.” Or follow Chuck Colson’s lead by calling or writing your senator or congressman to ask them to help end the genocide and violence in Darfur (see Colson’s site for more information). Get involved. Find out more (start here for Uganda and here for Darfur). Pray. Tell others. Whatever you do, God will use it. Just do something.

(Image: Wikipedia Darfur and Uganda)