Posts Tagged 'Human Rights'

Changing the World and Taking Names – John Dau

John Dau has an amazing story to tell. Most of you out there have no idea who he is, what he has gone through or the things he has done.

John Dau: Changing the World and Taking Names

Born in Sudan and at the young age of 12, he was separated from his family and forced to flee from the the Muslin-controlled government involved in the Second Sudanese Civil War who were fighting against the non-Muslims of the south. Dau was forced to travel on foot thousands of miles along with 27,000 others (most of them children). Dau himself led thousands of these “Lost Boys” across the arid African desert to relative safety in Ethiopia. More than half of these 27,000 “Lost Boys” would perish on the journey.

There were times where John and these Lost Boys would have to drink mud water for sustenance. They were constantly chased through the dangerous wilderness, often having to navigate through lands entrenched with lions or hyenas. Once, when being chased by gun-welding government forces, the Lost Boys had to swim through alligator-infested waters. John remembers about 3,000 people, many of them children, dying during that one event.

John lived in Ethiopia for four years until violence broke out once again in the region. Faced with disease, starvation, violence and seemingly insurmountable odds, he fled once again to Kenya where he eventually had the opportunity to attend school. In 2001, he would be among the 3,800 refugees that resettled in the United States.

Once in America, he worked 60 hours a week as a security guard to receive a post-secondary education at Onondaga Community College. John is currently pursuing a political science degree from Syracuse University. He has founded three non-profit organizations: the Sudanese Lost Boys Foundation of Central New York, Duk Lost Boys Clinic and the John Dau Sudan Foundation. Through the John Dau Sudan Foundation, he has been working towards bringing medical clinics that do not exist for most of the populations of Duk, Twic East and Bor South Counties in the State of Jonglei in Southern Sudan.

You may not have heard of him before, but people like John change the world. The things he has endured we here in North America may never experience, but that does not give us license to idly sit by.

The civil war in Sudan is a forgotten war, even though two million people lost their lives and many more are still affected by it. Now there is yet another war, in Darfur, and the typical American isn’t even aware of it. The U.S. being a big melting pot, Americans can walk the streets without noticing all the different nationalities. That is a good thing. On the other hand, it means Americans stop asking questions about their neighbors and stop learning about their problems – John Dau

Read this interview with John here. Just take a moment to at least learn about someone who is larger than life and who has led a life that most others do not lead. People like John should be on the front page of the news or on magazines, but instead we have Britney Spears and her inability to take care of her children, Lindsay Lohan’s first foray into lesbian relationships or Matthew Mcconaughey’s new baby. Wake up people, everyone has parental problems, babies are born every second and lesbians aren’t shocking.

People like John doesn’t want to be a celebrity and nor does he request it. His focus is to show the importance of surviving against all odds and fighting for the human rights for all people (especially among the Sudanese people). He is the real hero, the real celebrity deserving of our attention. That will never happen, but in the meantime, we have the ability and the freedom to learn about the world around us and the real things that actually matter.

Changing the world can be done by everyone, the first step is to learn about the world around you. Changing the world doesn’t require a certain age, sex, education, circumstance, environment or race. Changing the world starts with you choosing to change the world.

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A sham election

Robert Magabe, one of the Africa’s most notorious leaders, was ‘re-elected’ into his seat as a executive president. Many countries have or are considering ignoring the legitimacy of Magabe’s candidacy due to vote-rigging on top of decades of political unrest and acts of state terror. He has systematically abused the people of Zimbabwe. The chasm between international guarantees of human rights and the abuse instigated by Mugabe against Zimbabweans continue to widen.

Mugabe once compared himself to Hitler in an article by the Daily Telegraph of London. Mugabe said in the article that “this Hitler has only one objective: justice for his people, sovereignty for his people, recognition of the independence of his people and their rights over their resources. If that is Hitler, then let me be a Hitler tenfold”.

One story about a man, a former Zimbabwean prison guard by the name of Shepherd Yuda, has recently surfaced. He filmed, in secret, vote-rigging at his prison that he worked at. For doing this, he has been forced, along with other fellow prison guards, to flee his country. He was forced to vote for Mugabe by superior officers. The people of Zimbabwe do not have a chance to choose who they want in office and if they attempt to vote for the Mudabe’s opposing party, it might mean death.

Let me paint you a picture of how desperate the times are in Zimbabwe. The horrors the people of Zimbabwe face on a regular basis is exponential. On the financial side, the average income for a Zimbabwean has dropped from $975 in 1990 a year to below $400. The inflation rate continues to soar and is already over 620 percent above normal. The unemployment rate of Zimbabwe is at 70 percent and climbing.

On the health side, accordingly to the World Health Organisation, the life expectancy at birth for Zimbabwean men is 37 years and 34 years for women, the lowest of any country in the world. The life expectancy used to be in the 60’s in 1990. One in four people have HIV and over 4,000 of them day each week because of it. Even though the United States has provided over 400 million dollars in food aid between 2002 to 2007, Mugabe has placed government policies that has directly caused Zimbabwe to have the highest number of people starving to death. He uses international food aid for economic power against Zimbabweans and maniputes the distribution of international and government food aid to benefit his political manueverings. For example, A Zimbabwe citizen cannot have access to food aid unless he or she possesses a registration card that supports Mugabe’s political party.

Also, many consider Mugabe as racist and homophobic because of various comments he has made throughout his history in power. He has systematically attempted to remove the white population from Zimbabwe, who he considers to be enemies of the state.

In 2005, Mugabe drove out 10,000 homeless individuals from their make-shift shelters that he had placed there originally by the Mugabe-installed Operation Murambatsvina (literally meaning: Drive Out the Rubbish). Many of the poor that was displaced from their already-shanty homes to cardboard boxes supported the Movement for Democratic Change opposition party, which further illustrates that the move was politically-driven by Mugabe.

These examples are only the tip of the iceberg of what Mugabe has done to the people of Zimbwabe. I could go on and on about the atrocities that he has inflicted on his people and it would take awhile to go through the endless examples and stories. We may not be able to directly influence or change Zimbabwe, but what I want to point out is how ridiculously lucky/blessed we are to be able to vote, or even more specifically, the freedom to choose whoever we want to govern us. I think we take it for granted. I know I do. I’m a hypocrite, but I want to try.

How lucky are we that we get to vote? We are not impeded by the military, the government or any other outside force to choose who we want in office. The election is around the corner and as always, people are divided by who they want in office, but we should consider the opportunity to vote for the most powerful man on the planet as an honor. With that honor and right to choose, we have the responsibility to research and learn who we best feel represents us and the country. Don’t just cull an opinion from one source. Research the news, talk to people who don’t agree with you, talk to people who agree with you, watch the news, read the news, read books, learn both sides, but ultimately, make a well-informed choice.


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