Raise a Tent of Hope for the people of SudanDecember 14, 2007
Watch "Tents: Where Does Hope Live?" on YouTube
A trailer on Tents of Hope film in production by Francesca Roveda
For decades war has changed the lives of the people of Sudan. Since 2003, over 2.5 million people of the western most region of Darfur, Sudan, have permanently left their homes and between 250,000-400,000 have been killed.
To respond to this tremendous tragedy, Global Ministries, along with One Great Hour of Sharing and Week of Compassion, ask you to consider joining an innovative new project called Tents of Hope. Through this project, your community, congregation or youth group will create an active learning experience using simulation refugee tents to raise awareness of the conflict in Sudan through education, advocacy and fundraising for humanitarian assistance.
Each group will need to make or purchase a canvas tent, at a discount rate, to display in your community. Once purchased, your congregation can hold a "tent-raising" to design and decorate the tent. Through painting, quilting and needlepoint people will have the chance to artistically express their concern for the Sudanese people. Additionally, throughout the year your congregation can host activities with the tent as a centerpiece:
- Show a film on the side of the tent.
- Use the resources provided here to create a worship service on Sudan.
- Visit Global Ministries website resources on Sudan for additional information on Sudan and other regions.
- Invite musicians to play music.
- Host a typical Sudanese meal or with food that Sudanese refugees eat.
- Ask your youth to spend a night in the tent to gain a new perspective about the lives of displaced persons.
- Consider making an over and above gift to the Sudan crisis through One Great Hour of Sharing (UCC) or Week of Compassion (Disciples).
- Invite a refugee - from any country - or a Global Ministries missionary to speak at an event about what it's like to be displaced from your home.
The project will culminate in an event in Washington, DC in October 2008. Each community that has created a tent will have the chance to display it in DC as well as join in a national lobby day, giving you a chance to voice your concerns for the people of Sudan directly to your Representative or Senator.
Visit Tents of Hope for full guidelines about how you can raise a Tent of Hope and raise your voice for peace for the people of Sudan.
The dispute in Sudan is long-standing and complex.
In 2005, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed, ending the 21 year conflict between the north and south of Sudan. During the conflict over 1.5 million people were killed and 4 million displaced. In recent months, the frailty of this peace agreement has caused problems and the possibility of reigniting the conflict has reached new heights. Without stronger implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement the chances of seeing peace in other parts of Sudan, particularly Darfur, become less likely.
The current most egregious situation is in the Darfur region of Sudan, which two rebel groups have claimed that the Sudanese government has long neglected, prompting an insurgency in 2003 that came just as the Government of Sudan was involved in peace talks over other protracted conflicts in southern Sudan. These two rebel groups are mostly African Muslims from a number of different ethnic groups.
In seeking to defeat the rebel movements, the Government of Sudan increased arms and support to local militias, which have come to be known as the Janjaweed, composed mostly of Arabized African Muslims. The Janjaweed have wiped out entire villages, destroyed food and water supplies, and systematically murdered, tortured, and raped thousands of innocent people. These attacks occur with the direct support of the government's armed forces.
However, the conflict has always been more complex than how it is portrayed in the media, which has perpetuated the oversimplified perception that Arab militias (the so called
Janjaweed) are slaying African farmers. The situation in Sudan becomes more desperate and chaotic with the proliferation of armed groups with regularly shifting allegiances. Some Janjaweed, reportedly unhappy that they have not been paid by Sudanese government militias, are now fighting their one-time allies; in some cases they are also reportedly now protecting villages they once destroyed.
Most critically, the suffering is overwhelming. The United Nations estimates that 4 million people - roughly two-thirds of Darfur's population - are now dependent on some form of humanitarian assistance. As many as 250,000-400,000 people have died and 2.5 million have fled their homes. Without donations from faith communities, many more lives will be lost.
Through ACT/Caritas, a world-wide Christian faith-based alliance of relief agencies supporting humanitarian aid efforts in Sudan, Week of Compassion and One Great Hour of Sharing provide shelter, water, sanitation, medical care, trauma counseling, and livelihood assistance to Sudanese - both those returning to Southern Sudan following the peace agreement and those forced to flee the conflict in the Darfur region.
In 2005, the Disciples General Assembly and UCC General Synod passed Resolutions entitled "Promoting Peace for All in the Sudan" calling for an end to the violence.
As Christians, we are called to act in the wake of these atrocities. Tents of Hope provides ways individuals and communities can help our brothers and sisters in Sudan.
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