In a dimly lighted room, a small crowd of about 20 students gathered to view drawings by children of Darfur. These drawings do not show children playing or smiling faces, instead they show machine guns, burning houses, and sharp shooters.
The Howard University chapter of S.T.A.N.D (Students Take Action Now: Darfur) and the Department of Residence Life hosted an exhibit entitled “The Children of Darfur: Picturing Genocide,” which visited several dormitories on Howard’s campus from Nov. 7 €”13.
“Africa Action approached us to host the event and we thought ‘boy, that’s a great idea’ to get the word out about what’s happening in Darfur,'” said Eleanor King, teacher adviser for HU
S.TA.N.D and Professor of Anthropology.
King is thankful to Residence Life for giving them the opportunity to get the word out since originally the drawings were going to be on display in Blackburn, the school’s student center, but that fell through at the last minute.
“Everyone in Residence life was so nice to us. I won’t forget the time when we were in Drew Hall because the lounge where the pictures were on display was off to the side and down the beaten path,” she said jokingly. “But the staff kept making announcements to let the residents know we were there.”
Chloe Evans, a sophomore majoring in political science, and member of HU S.T.A.N.D wants other students to be more than aware, she wants them involved.
“They don’t even have to be involved on a full time basis, just take the time to make one call to your representative, senator, or President and ask them to intervene.”
Africa Action created the exhibit after Dr. Jerry Ehlrich returned from Darfur as a volunteer for Doctors Without Borders. During the summer of 2004 he spent two months in Internally Displaced (IDP) camps and collected drawings made by the children.
Africa Action reports that since early 2003, the Sudanese government has been orchestrating a campaign of genocide against the people of Darfur. So far, up to 400,000 lives have been taken and 2.5 million people have been displaced from their homes.
The everyday reality that the children of Darfur face was a hard pill for some attendees to swallow.
“It’s disturbing that children can draw the function of a gun so accurately. Westerners should be alarmed that they are doing this in their leisure time,” said Matthew Manning, a sophomore majoring in political science at Howard University.