On a recent NBC Today show, Ann Curry interviewed Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir about the situation in Darfur. We were appalled and dismayed to hear him flat out lie about what's going on in his country.
When asked why aid workers were not allowed in, he said that they did not have the knowledge of his country, only he had that knowledge, and that aid workers were 'useless.' He denied that his government was complicit in ethnic cleansing, even though there have been more than a thousand villages burned. International reports say that an estimated 200,000 people are dead and that 2.5 million people are homeless. In reply he said there were about 650,000 and that they were being taken care of. Curry spoke to the people of Darfur who had been shot or burned and to women who said they had been raped. To which al-Bashir said, 'There is war.' As far as rape goes, he said 'It is not in the Sudanese culture or people of Darfur to rape. It doesn't exist. We don't have it!'
Curry reported that al-Bashir 'was emphatic that the world misunderstands what is happening in Darfur.'
Neither of us has taken the time to try and understand what is going on in Sudan and what we could do to help. Nevertheless, hundreds of thousands of human lives have been destroyed. God forbid that we - or anyone with a conscience - would remain passive and let this continue without doing our small part to help.
We have a special and timely opportunity in Lake Oswego on Sunday, April 1, at 6:30 p.m. to hear from Rev. Alexander, a Sudanese Christian ministry leader who works in the displaced persons camps in Darfur. He helps lead a ministry called African Inland Church - Sudan (AIC). Among other work in Sudan, (group members) provide relief assistance for displaced Darfurians. Fewer and fewer 'outside' groups are able to work in the Darfur area due to instability; but because AIC is Sudanese, it has been able to continue to provide blankets, food and other necessities.
Everyone is invited to this free event held at Lake Grove Presbyterian Church, 4040 Sunset Drive, to hear Rev. Alexander speak. The fact that he obtained a visa to come to the U.S. is remarkable, so needless to say this is a rare opportunity. Please come and hear for yourself his first-hand report of the condition of Darfur.
Melinda Gordon and Debra Popejoy are residents of Lake Oswego.