Enough's Laura Heaton and Maggie Fick co-authored this post.
If you are reading this blog post, it's safe to assume you are fairly interested in Sudan and might even call yourself a "Sudan advocate." We can only speak for ourselves, but to be honest, we feel that it's not the easiest time to be Sudan advocates.
True, the challenges in Sudan this year are almost unprecedented in recent memory, but it's frustrating to feel like not everyone appreciates the gravity of the situation or the increasing likelihood that the country could return to serious conflict. (Even the highly respected Foreign Policy overlooked Sudan in its "Elections to Watch in 2010" list.) No matter your nationality, there are certainly plenty of issues in your own country and in other places like Haiti or the Middle East that might capture and hold your attention and maybe push Sudan out of the picture. And every once in a while, you may come across a story that makes you feel like the challenges facing Sudan are incredibly daunting and meaningful solutions elusive.
As the Enough Said writer/editor and as Enough's southern Sudan researcher, the two of us recently had the chance to travel together in southern Sudan, charged with the broad assignment of documenting stories to highlight the situation on the ground for our mostly U.S.-based advocate constituency. Talking to Sudanese people in their hometowns, villages, and the camps they've been forced into due to violence made us think about the purpose of advocacy. We were particularly inspired by a man we met in the town of Yambio, who you will hear from in the video below.
In the struggle over power, resources, and influence at a local and global level, many people in Sudan are getting overlooked. It's a simple fact that a Sudanese person like Father Erineo--an eloquent, passionate advocate for his people and a leader of his community--does not have the power, resources, and influence at his disposal to raise his important message to Sudan's leaders and to the international community.
So until Sudanese people no longer fear that their village may be attacked by government-sponsored militias, that their mothers and daughters may be raped, that their sons may be forced to fight in a conflict they're too young to understand, that perpetrators are immune to justice - and no longer fear the consequences if they speak up about these injustices - we as advocates have a role to play. The two of us cannot claim to know what it is like to be Sudanese or to understand the deepest complexities of the political situation here. Instead, we are trying to pass on what we have seen and learned so that people around the world who care about a peaceful future in Sudan can make their own judgments about how they can contribute to making this goal a reality.
To that end, here is Father Erineo delivering a short message that inspired us and that we asked him to record to share with you:
Today is an important day for Sudan advocacy. A key meeting is taking place among President Obama's deputies to determine the U.S. plans for engagement in Sudan. Click here to learn what you can do to help shape these next steps to promote peace.
John Prendergast is Co-Founder of Enough, the anti-genocide project at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C.
Laura Heaton writes and edits Enough's blog, Enough Said, from Washington, D.C. Maggie Fick, based in Juba, Southern Sudan, is a policy researcher for Enough.