This morning I read an email from a dear friend I have known for years, yet never met in person. He was born and raised in Darfur, now thankfully studying abroad in safety. His email was about his extreme concern for his family and friends that remain in his homeland, the violence having once again recently escalated. This year alone has displaced hundreds of thousands.
My friend knows all too well what can happen, having lost myriad friends and family members to this seemingly endless genocide already. He knows when a family member comes to visit, it may be their last. He knows that a long walk for the family’s water may result in death upon return. He knows firsthand that those who protest in peace risk detention and torture. He knows full well that sometimes they are released after a few days, and sometimes they are not.
The long-term pattern has been that whenever the international spotlight is focused elsewhere, it gets worse.
Never underestimate the power of witness. Never underestimate the power of hope that one can give to another by turning toward their suffering instead of away, offering genuine presence and loving attention that says:
I am here. I will stay. And I will not forget you.
Witness is powerful for individuals; it is powerful internationally also.
Remembering the Past toward Healing Our Future begins with the first three events next week.
April 1 at Soka University, 20 years after the Rwanda genocide, we will have the privilege of hearing from two courageous survivors, Delly Nzella, and Edith Umugiraneza. Both were only teenagers when genocide ripped their lives apart, yet today, they are not only inspiring, but a sheer delight to be with.
April 2 at Concordia University, we get to hear from Dr. Levon Marashlian, graciously willing to share his story of being born into a family of Armenian genocide survivors, and how the issue of genocide-denial followed him even as he testified at a Congressional hearing on these issues.
April 3 at Golden West College, we are deeply grateful for Kreng Krich, 5-years-old during the Cambodian genocide, and Zaklin Phat, whose parents and grandparents are survivors, both willing to share their experiences with us. Additionally, Dr. John Hall, having very recently returned from one of his many trips to Cambodia on matters of Human Rights and International Justice, will lend his warm-hearted expertise to the conversation that night.
Barbara English, LMFT
Founder & Executive Director, Living Ubuntu
[Ubuntu] n. Every human being truly becomes a human by means of relationships with other human beings.
::: UPCOMING COMMUNITY EVENTS :::
Great American Write-In – Women For: Orange County
Saturday, April 5 9:30a-1p
OC Walk to End Genocide – Jewish World Watch
Sunday, April 6 1p-4p
Fountain Valley Sports Park – Great Lawn
8th Annual Golden West College 2014 Peace Conference
PEACE: Our Challenge, Our Opportunity, Our Legacy
Friday, April 18 8:30a-5p