Fort Mill Times

On My Mind - April 2, 2008

Tommy Werner is a junior at Nation Ford High School.
Tommy Werner is a junior at Nation Ford High School.

"Woman braves frost-bite for Hannah Montana tickets." "Crazed Spears has fit over child custody."

These are the news headlines. From Anna Nicole Smith to O.J. Simpson, the American public is drowned in the exploits of the rich and famous. These people are what Americans dream to be. People's main concerns are what is the least amount of work, and what will make the most money.

To some, it does not matter what happens in other places in the world, just as long as the car still runs and the coffee is still hot.

At Nation Ford High School, we have a sister organization affiliated with the Echo Foundation. The Echo Foundation, which has been in existence for around 10 years, has been working to stop the Darfur genocide. For those who don't know, Darfur is a region in the Sudan, the largest country in Africa. The government there has been carrying out a racial cleansing of the country since 2003. The Sudanese government, led by radical Arab Muslim Omar al-Bashir, cuts off water supplies, hurts children, and rapes women in the black and non-Muslim Southern region of the country. These afflicted people flee to bordering nations or stay in the area. The refugees' conditions in surrounding countries such as Chad and Uganda are not much better off than those who stay. Thousands of people in Darfur are brutally killed based on race and religion.

Recently, Nation Ford's Darfur organization traveled to Charlotte Latin High School for a seminar with David Johnson, a photojournalist who has actually been to Darfur to document the tragedy. Seeing the suffering people he photographed and hearing about their horrible conditions was quite a lot for me. I had joined the group for the most part unaware of the Darfur crisis. Hearing about Darfur's people was quite a shock, but what really got to me were the photographs and their stories.

A girl wearing a foreign-sent T-shirt smiles at the camera. Her name is Mary. Mary's story is what made me really want to do something, and she is the reason why I wrote this column. The photographer explained how Mary did not know how old she was. She had been a sex slave her entire life. She attempted to escape from the occupied areas with two of her children. During the night, she ran off holding her two children's hands. It didn't take long for the military to catch up with her. They found her hiding in a bush which they promptly set on fire. She escaped and was able to reach safety with help from Darfur aid, but had to return and bury her two children who had perished in the fire.

Mary's story inspired everyone at the convention. Some people went and told others, some didn't, but one thing was certain: her story was unforgettable. Realizing how much time the media waste covering trivial matters such as Miley Cyrus' lack of a seatbelt, athletes' drug tests and then seeing how little attention Darfur gets, made me really want to spread the word.

Carry and spread news that matters to you. Research more about Darfur. Tell at least one person about what's going on the other side of the world and how it makes you feel. Something can be done about the inhumanity in Darfur, and we all can contribute by telling those who might not know.

Support the good causes and always know your news.