Archive for July, 2005

Hunger Strike

Today I am stricken by all the awful things happening in our world.

Last night I watched a KQED program about “New Heros”. This one about Inderjit Khurana.

As a schoolteacher, Inderjit Khurana used to take the train to work. And each day, in the stations, she would come into contact with dozens of children who spent their days begging from train passengers rather than attending school. She learned that it was not a rare or isolated problem and that millions of children in India live on the streets.

Convinced that these children would never be able to escape their conditions of poverty and homelessness without education, and realizing that it would be impossible to enroll these children in school, Inderjit decided to create a model program for "taking the school to the most out-of-school children."

Khurana’s "train platform schools" aim to provide a creative school atmosphere and equip children with the basic levels of education necessary to allow them to work productively, enjoy many of life’s pleasures, and become positive contributors to their communities.

Khurana’s ultimate goals reach far beyond the 20 platform schools she and her colleagues have created in India’s Bhubaneswar region. She is determined that her program become a model for effectively changing the lives of the poorest children throughout India and the world.

To learn more about other New Heros visit: http://www.pbs.org/opb/thenewheroes/index.html

Then, this morning I found Nate Kleinman’s blog: http://hungerstrikefordarfur.blogspot.com.

He is on hunger strike to raise awareness of the ongoing genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan.

I am upset by the idea that Nate represents what our world is becoming or already is. 

We are in a world where we each stand alone. To work together, one must take extreme individual action to get the attention of others and then maybe their support.

I look at myself and the people around me and wonder, “what is happening to us that we are too busy to take notice and do something about anything?”

I signed the petition on http://capwiz.com/africaaction/mail/oneclick_compose/?alertid=7495271 to feel like I was supporting Nate and the people of Sudan. I hope that my voice will be heard with the others who sign the petition. And I feel guilty that it is all I will do while Nate starves himself on our capital.

Here is a letter from Nate’s sister, Molly:

On June 30, 2005, my brother Nate went on a hunger strike in to raise awareness of the ongoing genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan. Most people in the U.S. have no idea that since February 2003, government-sponsored militias have conducted a calculated campaign of slaughter, rape, starvation and displacement in Darfur. An estimated 400,000 people have died due to violence, starvation and disease, and more than 2.5 million people have been displaced from their homes and now live in camps lacking adequate food, shelter, sanitation, and health care. The United States Congress and President Bush have recognized the situation in Darfur as "genocide," but have thus far declined to do anything about it. Nathan hopes to call attention to the devastating situation there, just as the approaching G8 summit presents world leaders with an important opportunity to come together and take action.

In a letter he sent out to family and friends earlier this week, Nate wrote:

"I am a Jew, and I was raised to believe that "Never Again" meant something… We have waited far too long to act, but it is not too late to save lives, nor, indeed, to save an entire culture. Over the course of my hunger strike, hundreds of innocent Darfuris will die by disease, violence, and starvation. Everyone can help: by writing letters, organizing protests, calling representatives and world leaders, boycotting companies that do business in Sudan, and even taking to the streets if need be. Search your conscience, your soul, and think about joining my protest, in DC or in your own city or country. One hunger striker is a start, but scores of us would be impossible to ignore. We must remind the President and the world just what starvation looks like."

I have to admit that I thought the idea of one unknown kid going on a hunger strike was unlikely to make any impact, and just about everyone we know has tried to talk him out of it. I thought it was quixotic at best, and dangerous at worst. But I’m also immensely

proud of my brother, for standing up, for fighting the crushing sense of hopelessness that so many of us feel by saying, "This, at least, is something I can do."

So I’m spreading the word. Tell your friends, tell your family, tell your senators. Genocide is happening again, and we have the power to stop it. 

To learn more about the situation in Darfur, visit:

http://www.savedarfur.org/

To read about Nate’s reasons for the hunger strike in his own words, visit:

http://hungerstrikefordarfur.blogspot.com  

To sign a petition urging the U.N. to take action visit:

http://capwiz.com/africaaction/mail/oneclick_compose/?alertid=7495271

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