Shout out

Darfur Tucson working to make ‘Never again’ more than words

ERICA BEE, Special to the AJP

When will the phrase, “Never Again” actually represent the truth? In 1945, the Holocaust ended and after the death of approximately six million Jews, we vowed, “Never Again.” We vowed we would never again stand idly by and watch human beings be treated so mercilessly. However, here we are, 2010, and genocide continues.

I often think about my 7th and 8th grade years at Tucson Hebrew Academy. THA teaches the basics like math, science, social studies and language arts, but what makes this school different from a public school, is that they teach the values of tzedakah and mitzvot. Tzedakah means charity or helping the less fortunate. Completing a mitzvah is to carry out an act of human kindness.
My media teacher at Catalina Foothills High School, Mrs. Bomeisl, asked each student to choose an issue that he or she felt passionately about. Throughout this year we have used various media outlets as part of a public relations campaign to appeal to others. My campaign was on genocide in Darfur, Sudan. I wanted to do more than expose the killing and the brutal punishment of ethnic Africans in Darfur by the Arab-dominated government in Khartoum, to my classmates.

Through Hebrew High and STAND (Students Taking Action Now: Darfur) I have founded Darfur Tucson. Bryan Davis, Hebrew High principal, has encouraged and supported me every step of the way.

Currently, I’m working with a group of middle school students from Satori Middle School. As a Satori alum, I feel this is the perfect environment to start advocating. I began teaching in January and students have surpassed my expectations in response to my lessons.
I walked into Satori Middle School to teach about Darfur, but the students wanted more. They asked about helping in their community and are discovering new ways to do so.

We visited Casa Maria Soup Kitchen, as many of them were eager to make a positive contribution to those less fortunate. This experience provided them the opportunity to see how donating food and volunteering time make a difference to those in need.

Some students have joined Darfur Tucson and will be present during a fundraising event on April 21 at Crossroads Theater. They will work a Darfur information booth from 6:30 to 7 p.m. From 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., there will be a screening of the documentary “Sand and Sorrow” narrated by George Clooney, which analyzes Khartoum’s ongoing repression of civilians in Darfur and how the international community has failed to respond. There is no charge for the event, however, donations for the non-profit organization Darfur Tucson can be made to the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona.

I will continue my fight for an end to the Darfur genocide by educating students, teaching individual responsibility and encouraging them to stand up for what they believe is right. The fight for equality for all human beings must go on. It’s time to speak now to ensure NEVER AGAIN.

Erica Bee is a student at Hebrew High and Catalina Foothills High School.

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