S.T.A.N.D. plans hunger fast for Darfur awareness

Every day women are the victims of brutal sexual violence when they leave internally displaced persons camps in Sudan to search for firewood for cooking fuel. Violence broke out in the Darfur region of Sudan in 2003 as rebel military forces gained power, UVM S.T.A.N.D. (Students Taking Action Now: Darfur), a student anti-genocide coalition, said. According to S.T.A.N.D., 2.5 million people have been forced to flee their homes, and at least 400,000 have been killed. S.T.A.N.D. is providing UVM students and the greater UVM community with “a remarkable opportunity to contribute” to help stop this genocide, and especially the violence against women, senior Meredith Burak, executive director of UVM S.T.A.N.D., and S.T.A.N.D. International coordinator said. S.T.A.N.D. and its parent organization, the Genocide Intervention Network, are teaming up for a major fundraising effort, called DarfurFast. This project urges stu?dents and community members to “fast” from one luxury item, such as coffee, chocolate or cigarettes for a day, and donate the money they would have spent to protect civilians in Darfur, Burak said. DarfurFast begins Wednesday, Dec. 5 and will continue through the end of the semester, Magdalena Jen?son, co-director of UVM’s S.T.A.N.D. chapter said. According to Jenson, the money raised will go to the Genocide Intervention Network’s Civilian Protection Program. The “…projects work with the Darfuri community leaders, displaced women and girls, the African Union and the UN to protect people in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs),” Burak said. “The GI-Net’s Civilian Protection Program offers safer cooking options by providing alternative-fuel stoves, guarded firewood patrols and income-generating projects for women so that they can afford to buy firewood from the robust firewood market,” Burak said. According to S.T.A.N.D., a little money goes a long way in Darfur. “One dollar will fund the use of a propane kitchen for one internally displaced Darfurian for one day, $3 will fund protection for an average of one person through UNAMID firewood patrols, $80 will help one internally displaced household generate income,” Burak said. Last year UVM S.T.A.N.D. raised $1,000 of the $400,000 raised by students throughout the country, S.T.A.N.D.’s press release said. “I think that was a starting number, and we’re hoping to multiple that tenfold this year,” Jenson said. This year there is extra incentive to reach that $1,000 goal. “Nobel Peace Prize Winner and UVM alum Jody Williams, as well as Ben & Jerry’s co-founder Jerry Greenfield, have each generously offered to match up to $1,000 raised by UVM S.T.A.N.D,” Burak said. “Therefore, raising $1,000 automatically turns into $3,000.” S.T.A.N.D. will be tabling in the Davis center this week. Club Metronome will also hold a benefit concert on Dec. 11 from 9 P.M to 2 A.M. Merrill’s Roxy Cinema will be showing the film “Darfur Now” and will donate half of the ticket and concession revenues on Dec. 14 and 15 to S.T.A.N.D, Burak said. They will also welcome the director/writer of the film, Ted Braun. Jenson said that S.T.A.N.D. is “extremely grateful to the UVM community” for the support they have previously offered. However, she said, “we can always hope for more.”