Darfur not far from students’ thoughts

Stefanie Buhrman

The conflict in Darfur has left hundreds of thousands dead and millions of Sudanese residents displaced. Now a campus group known as Ames-ISU for Darfur hopes to help bring it all to an end.

“It all started at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Ames,” said Alissa Stoehr, graduate student in interdisciplinary graduate studies and president and founder of Ames-ISU for Darfur.

“I first heard about Savedarfur.org through outreach in my church and I started meetings in my church around the issues. That’s when I first thought about it being a registered organization.”

The new group started in the fall and is now trying to get the word out.

“We’ve done a display case in the MU,” Stoehr said. “We’ve done booths, a movie night and we’ve started a Facebook group.”

The group has also held several events to raise awareness of the conflict.

“We’ve had different activists come and speak around the time of the Iowa caucuses to speak about how Iowa can really play a part,” said Lance Allgood, senior in civil engineering. “Our best event so far was the movie screening of ‘Sands of Sorrow.’ A lot of people were able to come and figure out what it’s all about.”

Allgood learned about the events in Darfur when he took a six-week trip to Africa, where he said he saw two refugee camps with tens of thousands of relocated families.

“Coming back, I no longer had the excuse that I didn’t know, or I haven’t seen it, or it’s over there,” Allgood said. “I care now because I’ve looked into the eyes of my friend Huwoma, and seeing the way he refused to give up hope really convicted my apathy and how little I actually cared. It [showed] me that I should use the resources I have to help.”

Now that the group has the ball rolling, they want to keep up the momentum.

“[We are hoping] to do some more events,” Stoehr said. “We want to work with more groups about peace and educate. Some people don’t know the steps they can take to help end genocide.”

Members of Ames-ISU for Darfur said anyone can get involved and do simple things to help out the cause in a big way.

“People can actually do something,” Allgood said. “It can be exhilarating to send out a letter to your congressman or to take action online. It can be more exhilarating than winning your favorite video game or getting an intramural T-shirt.”