Letting our elected officials hear from us with letters, emails and phone calls is important. But one congressman recently suggested that the most effective way to exert influence in Congress is to influence public opinion through our own communities. This is what our job should be as activists.
Dear friends and family:
Today Gabriel, Katie-Jay, and Yuen-Lin reached Camp Djabal. This camp is considered to be one of the safest and most advanced refugee camps in Eastern Chad, but that does not mean it is anywhere near an acceptable place to call home for the thousands that have been there for too many years.
Gabriel, KT-J, and Yuen-Lin have posted their thoughts on the situation on the ground, and there is nothing good to report. But they also know that however bad the situation is, the people in Camp Djabal are the "lucky ones" that made it out of Darfur. With the recent expulsion of aid groups from Sudan, there are now over 1 million internally displaced people in Darfur that have been left without food, water, shelter, or basic medical care. When their rapidly dwindling supplies run out, what will they do? Where will they go? How will camps like Djabal cope if they see a massive influx of new refugees from Darfur in the coming weeks?
Friends, it is depressing to always have to share grim news with you. But we must not be discouraged, we must take the sad truth and swallow it like a vitamin that makes us stronger in our fight for the people of Darfur. There are glimmers of Hope out there. Last week, in the middle of our rally in the streets of Los Angeles, news came in of Obama's appointment of J. Scott Gration as his Special Envoy to Sudan. Faisal -- a Darfuri now living in the U.S. -- told me that, "This is a big step, but we still have a million miles to go." Yesterday you did an e-action with Investors Against Genocide (I.A.G.) to send a message to the financial world that you won't invest in genocide. TIAA-CREF, one of I.A.G.'s main targets, feels the pressure we are applying. Today they announced that they are taking steps to rid their investments of links to Sudan. This is proof that the daily actions you perform -- the phone calls, emails, text messages, letters, e-petitions, and more -- do make a difference! But there is no time to celebrate, we must continue our actions and take them to a new level.
Eric, for the i-ACT team
No more activism-as-usual. We have tried that for the past six years. Get CREATIVE for Darfur! i-ACT has collected hours of video, thousands of photos, dozens of drawings and testimonies from Darfur refugee camps. For today's action we are challenging you to step outside the status quo Darfur action box. Using these resources what are creative ways that you can use these resources to reach your community? All of our content is under Creative Commons License - please feel free to use it and let people know where you got it! Here are some ideas to get your energy moving:
Create a t-shirt design and enter it in a contest: Design by Humans or Threadless
Write a song or rap (or cover a song) and play it with a slideshow of Darfur children: An Example by Greg Lawson or from a Darfuri
Create a poster, collage, sticker, image...to hang in your community, in streets, in bathroom stalls, on cars (magnets!), everywhere! Post it on the web FREE and share it! Replace the front page of your local paper with the REAL NEWS: Check out the LA Times cover page!
We need new ideas. We cannot accept the status quo from the Government of Sudan, and we cannot accept the status quo of activism - we need new angles, new actions, things that will push our movement forward. We need to step things up. We can't expect our government to take a stand if we are sitting at home. Yes, Wake Up, Brush Your Teeth, Call Your Leaders, but also step out of your box and come up with a new idea. Post it here - however different or out there it might be!