A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Children of Darfur

Tonight I attended a lecture sponsored by the International Committee of the YMCA. (The Committee is the subject of the next article I'll be writing.) The speaker for the evening was Professor Khalid Kodi, who presently resides in Boston, but is a native of Sudan. He spoke about the genocide in Darfur, which is a region of Sudan. Mohamed Ibrahim and Magda Ahmed of Amherst, also Sudanese natives, spoke eloquently as well.

Magda and Mohamed brought with them the travelling exhibit of children's drawings from Darfur. These drawings were collected in 2004 by Dr. Jerry Ehrlich, a New Jersey pediatrician, while on a trip to Darfur as part of Doctors Without Borders. He had distributed crayons and paper to the sick and wounded children in his clinic at the Kalma displacement camp to occupy them as they waited, and this is what they drew.

They drew airplanes firebombing villages, and men on horses and on camels massacring the escaping villagers with swords and guns. Picture after picture depicted the same scenes with startling accuracy. These children, aged about five to eleven, were witnessing to a genocide, the existence of which the Sudanese government had been systematically denying.

Dr. Ehrlich smuggled the drawings out of Sudan, and has since had them displayed at several museums. He has also allowed them to be exhibited on college campuses and at other venues, the latest being the Springfield YMCA.

These drawings by the children of Darfur were the start of a grassroots movement to publicize and to stop the genocide in that region. They continue to be a powerful testimony. The children were not trying to be activists. They were just drawing what they saw.