I am about three quarters of the way through We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families: Stories from Rwanda, Phillip Gourevitch’s account of the genocide of Rwanda’s Tutis minority by the country’s Hutu majority, and its aftermath. I guess I didn’t get enough of brutality in King Leopold’s Ghost. I’ve been reading it for the past week or so. Sometimes, as I’ve been reading in the car, we’ve passed by signs that remind me of a genocide in progress. Just last night I came across another such reminder online. A frequent poster on Kevin Drum’s blog returned from spending some time Africa as an aid worker helping the Darfur refugees.
On his blog, Drum points to a brief account of this woman’s experience (she has been invited to write about it on Drum’s blog, but is currently recovering from it) shared by Blue Girl, Red State. It’s a haunting echo of what I’ve been reading about for the past week or so.
What she dealt with daily goes beyond the pale…beyond the nightmares of most people; Children with all four limbs hacked off right above the knee or below the elbow. Twelve year olds who died in childbirth after being gang-raped by the Janjaweed. Women who gave birth to rape-babies who were then cast out by their families for shaming the family name, leaving only one avenue of survival for themselves and their children after the camps: Prostitution.
What is fucking her up is the desperation, and the fact that she worked herself to death for over a month, and she still didn’t really save anyone. Now that she’s gone, it’s like she was never there. Even the ones she helped keep alive, she didn’t save. You try dealing with that reality.
I’m not sure I could deal with that reality up close and person, but I realized last night that I’ve been somewhat remiss in not dealing with it here, by at least writing about it. If you’re not aware of the situation in Darfur, Save Darfur, DarfurGenocide.Org, and Wikipedia have good background information, as well as information on what you can do to help. I also echo Blue Girl’s advice.
If you want to do something to show your support, give a few bucks to Darfur action by Amnesty International, or to Doctors Without Borders, or to the Quakers medical missions. Or the Red Cross, for cryin’ out loud! If you do, leave a post and we’ll let her know about your action.
And if you can’t donate money, that’s no hinderance to contributing to the common good. Just look around you and see something that needs to be done; be it picking up a candy wrapper in a parking lot or carrying an old ladies purchases to her car. And then step up and do it.
That pretty much says it all.