Thursday, May 17, 2007

Doing something about Darfur

By David Ertischek

West Roxbury - Twelve-year-old Margalit Shapiro-Katz can never be called a stereotypical child. A stereotypical child would not make a 2 1/2-page newsletter about how to stop the Darfur Genocide and hand it out to her teachers and peers at school.
Shapiro-Katz, of Roslindale, was also one of many local residents who attended “A Crisis of Conscience: An HBT Teach-In on Darfur” at Temple Hillel B’nai Torah in West Roxbury this past Sunday morning.

“If this was happening to other people, Americans would feel much different than they do,” said Shapiro-Katz, who doesn’t even recall why she chose to create her newsletter.

“I think [I got involved] because so many people are dying and not a lot of people care. I care about people, and I don’t want anyone to die because they are different,” she said.

On Sunday, Shapiro-Katz listened to Susannah Sirkin, the deputy director of Physicians for Human Rights, present a multimedia presentation and share her firsthand observations from her travels to Sudan for 10 days in July of last year. Sirkin went with other health professionals who help Sudanese human rights organizations to provide treatment to those who have been tortured, and specifically sexually assaulted.

The Roslindale resident said, “Darfur is a whole other planet.”

“When you fly over, you see almost how impossible it is to live in this part of the world,” said Sirkin. “Many [places] have been destroyed by genocidal attacks, but you can’t understand how someone can live there anyways. There are no roads. You have to walk for dozens of miles to get to a school or a clinic. There are no trees, no water, just a desert. It’s a very unbelievable barren landscape.”

Sirkin added there are very few roads, terrible sanitation and that there was only one main road in the capital of Darfur.

“You can see how poor the infrastructure is; for decades this past of Sudan has been neglected by the federal government,” said Sirkin.

She also commented on the perception and reality of Darfur.

“The image you have is that it is a massive refugee camp, but professional go to work there. There is a hospital. Human rights activists can function there,” she said.

And what did residents of Darfur want her to know?
“Don’t forget us, basically save us from this terrible onslaught. They want a protection force there so they don’t continue getting killed, attacked and raped. They’re looking at the rest of the world to do that.” The full story >>>>>

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