Sunday, March 4, 2007

A Journalist In Darfur

This is Awatif Ahmed Isshag.

She's been a journalist for the last ten years.

She lives in Darfur.

When events like the ongoing crisis in Darfur come to the attention of relatively secure people like me (resident of the USA, not starving, and not seeing death and destruction every day), we feel particularly helpless.

It's going to take more than the combined efforts of all the aid organizations there are to help people in that country [not to mention the horrible happenings in other countries].

It's going to take a massive change of heart--massive change for each individual who could help in any way and massive change for every government and political person who has any influence on secular happenings--a thorough spiritual transformation.

Can you hear it?

The world is crying, screaming for change...

The Dynamist Blog carried a short article about Awatif Ahmed Isshag. Here's just a taste:

"Nearly a decade ago, at 14, Isshag started publishing a handwritten community newsletter about local events, arts and religion. Once a month she'd paste decorated pages to a large piece of wood and hang it from a tree outside her family's home for passersby to read.

"Her grass-roots periodical has become the closest thing that El Fasher, capital of North Darfur state, has to a hometown newspaper. More than 100 people a day stop to check out her latest installments, some walking several miles from nearby displacement camps....

"Isshag complained that despite international attention, the suffering of Darfur remained vastly underreported inside Sudan. There are no television stations in the area, and most newspapers operate under government control or are based hundreds of miles away in Khartoum.

"'The local media don't cover the issue of Darfur,' she said. 'We hear about it when one child dies in Iraq, but we hear nothing when 50 children die' in Darfur."

She is, in a way, blogging without a computer.

If you need some background on the bigger picture, the BBC News has Q&A: Sudan's Darfur conflict and Wikipedia has Darfur Conflict.


A more complete story on Awatif Ahmed Isshag can be had at the Los Angeles Times. Here's a telling detail from that article:

"An advocate for women's education, Isshag credits her parents for allowing her to avoid being tied down by housework and pursue her interest in writing.

"But she occasionally uses her columns to lecture other women on pet peeves. A recent 'For Women Only' article lambasted those who took off their shoes on the bus. 'It's wrong,' she said with a laugh."

3 comments:

Puzzled Woeman said...

You mention "spiritual transformation". I sometimes get the feeling that humankind just might be evolving towards a greater thing, a unity of sorts, where finally every one works together to bring about greater good.

Dar said...

Hello Alexander! My name is Dar and I've recently (just 30 seconds ago) returned from a visit to your website.
The article about Awatif Isshag was beautifully inspiring. People like Awatif are the living proof that the human spirit is always alive-despite, and sometimes because of-the immeasurable hardships that are put upon them.
Anna's poems are beautiful!! I truely enjoyed them and you are right about he voice saying the words. It's magical to be able to hear someone's soul with their own voice!!
Dar

Alexander M said...

puzzled woeman,
I completely agree!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
dar,
Warm Welcome!