Thursday, September 21, 2006
The new Suluhiana Club at James Logan High School aims to educate students and staff about the genocide happening in the Darfur region of Sudan. This club is the brainchild of a group of four seniors: Brittany Jones the current President of the club, Danielle Lemi the Vice President, Shefali Tandon the Secretary, and Catherine Start the Treasurer. The supervising teacher for the Suluhiana Club is Mr. Walter Cozine in Room 453.
Burned village near Kerenik and dead dog: The rotting carcass of a dog lies near burned homes near Kerenik in West Darfur (Photo: USAID)
According to club President Brittany Jones, the creation of this club seemed like the obvious choice: "Once I found out about the genocide happening in Darfur I was kind of upset because we as a school were being silent about it. We were doing a bunch of other relief efforts, like the one for Hurricane Katrina and the Tsunami victims, but no attention was being shed on this tragedy."
The Polish-Jewish scholar Raphael Lemkin, who coined the term "genocide" in 1943, said that 'genocide' means "a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves."
On April 25, 2006, Dr. Eric Reeves, a former Sudan researcher and analyst, said that the death toll for this conflict "now significantly exceeds 450,000." In a nutshell, the conflict is between the armed janjaweed, an Arab militia backed by the Sudanese government, and the largely unarmed Fur, Massaleit, and Zaghawa ethnic groups of the region.
Although many experts have speculated about the official starting date of the conflict, most will agree that it began on February 26, 2003. Fights have been breaking out in this region since 2003 and club Vice President Danielle Lemi, said that "Because of such an appalling lack of attention for the past three years, it is now extremely important for teenagers to start paying attention to the world around them."
This new club has been trying to get the word out via the many flyers seen throughout school with pictures of displaced Sudanese refuges and slogans like "Genocide in Darfur: Where's the UN when you need them" or "While you read this thousands die" to get their sense of urgency across. In addition, a few club members have been selling handmade hemp bracelets for $1 each to raise funds to donate to a relief organization that will help the children in the middle of this conflict. Treasurer Catherine Start said she wanted to make it the "Livestrong of Logan". As of today they have sold about one hundred bracelets and, according to Brittany Jones, "We are trying to find a good organization for them to go to. We don't want this money to end up in the wrong hands and we certainly don't want it to be used to perpetuate this violence." Last Tuesday, at Back to School Night, the club raised $85 by selling cookies as well. Future fundraising ideas are in the works and Secretary Shefali Tandon invited all who are interested to stop by for more information during Club Day, which will take place next Wednesday.
If you wish to contact the club now and learn more about their efforts and the crisis in Sudan , the URL to their Myspace is: http://www.myspace.com/suluhiana.
Some might know that the club was originally called the Save Darfur Club, but was just recently changed to the Suhuliana Club. The reason behind the change was explained by President Brittany Jones: "Suluhiana means peace in Swahili. We felt that it was a more appropriate name for the club because we aren't just interested in helping the people in Darfur, but ensuring peace everywhere. For our graduating class of 2007, in this moment in time, we feel that the most pressing issue is Darfur. However, we want the future classes that will eventually hold the reins of this club to be able to fight for whatever peaceful cause they see fit."
It's a big job for a high school club to take on. "I know it seems like a lofty goal, almost unattainable, for Logan students to end a war that the UN, AU, and other governments cannot solve," said Jones, "But let us not forget that we are not alone and that one voice will inspire another and our greatest wish is to inspire others and let that positive domino effect take place until there will be no other option but for decisive action to end this war to take place. Will you be a part of this revolution?"