Tents of Hope, Washington, D.C.

"I wish for the whole world to have strawberries and good food."
Sunday we drove to DC to participate in the last day of the Tents of Hope interfaith weekend of prayer and action for Sudan. Communities across America and abroad transformed canvas refugee tents with liberal doses of paint and love into unique works of art that express compassion and desire for peace for the people of Darfur and surrounding areas.
We walked out of the Air and Space Museum to view a magnificent panoramic sight. Over 350 tents, lined up like colorful soldiers, stretched down the length of the Smithsonian Mall grounds. One speaker noted, “We are only passing through, this world is our family.” Looking at the colorful tents, this is our family, this is our world, and these are our people. And some of our people live desperate lives.

Dr. Clements, “…so when genocide is happening and we stand idly by we are part of it.” Within view of the stage where the speakers and entertainers stood, is the Native American Museum. This is an American genocide. Three blocks south, stands the National Holocaust Museum. In Rwanda, I have written to four different women, one year each, all directly affected by that genocide. Kosovo is the same. And in each case of unfettered genocide the world stood idly by, taking action after thousands had died.

It is difficult to imagine entire families living in these small tents, which barely give protection against the winds and heat. Tiny patches of vegetables, scratched out in the parched soil, cooking fires, flirting with the flimsy canvas, this is real life.

Many displaced, refugee camps have been systematically destroyed by Omar Al-Bashir’s forces. Each sign represents a village that is gone, vanished, destroyed.

One citizens group is making efforts to provide solar cooking panels to the camps and teaching people how to use them. This helps to reduce the need for gathering firewood, which often results in the women and girls being caught and raped. The men do not go out for wood because they are killed, girls are sent because they are raped and not killed. ( I suppose that depends upon what you consider death.)

These are a few of the beautiful tents painted for the refugees. At the end of the day they were dismantled, wrapped and ready for shipping to Sudan. Money raised over the weekend was to help defray costs of shipping.

Visit http://www.savedarfur.org/ to learn more about the Sudan. There is a web stream slide show of the entire weekend. Also on this website you can sign an e-postcard. The goal is to collect one million signed postcards to present to President-elect Obama on April 26th. President Obama will be 100 days into his presidency, the coalitions to stop genocide, will invite him to the Smithsonian Mall and give him the million post cards. You can do it on line if you would like to lend your voice.

It was a spiritual experience to walk amongst these tents, thinking of those who painted them and who would live in them; focusing on this event which shouldn’t be happening; putting a face to those who have committed untold hours and dollars to help these people who suffer; watching the youth lead; our country is in good hands with this new generation of compassionate, vocal, intelligent younger adults. These men and women will be the generation who provide strawberries for those who are repressed.

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Thank you for visiting my blog today. I appreciate the time you take to say hello. Warmly, Sharon