During the 2005-07 school years, the STF advocated to protect human rights in Darfur. Along with awareness-raising events, petitions, call-ins and postcard campaigns, Palisades Charter High School students presented advocacy artwork to their elected representatives. Click on the drawings below to enlarge.
Artists Left to Right: Nicholle Payne, Caroline Mendonca, Annie Pendergrast
USC Global Day
April 23, 2007: Corey Jackson, Senator Barbara Boxer’s Los Angeles Field Representative, was one of the guests of honor at the USC Camp Darfur. Mr. Jackson agreed to attend the event so that STFers could hand over petitions addressed to the Senator, thanking her for her leadership in the Senate in bringing protection to the people of Darfur. STFers also shared their advocacy efforts with USC students, and a group of Santa Clarita middle schoolers, as well as a representative from their friend Congressman Henry Waxman’s office.
STF Meets with HRW Researcher David Buchbinder
April 18, 2007: Students at New Roads High School and STFers from Wildwood School met with HRW researcher David Buchbinder who spoke of his work in Eastern Chad. He had recently returned from six weeks in the area. He touched on historical, political, economic, geographic, military and social issues that impact the people embroiled in this crisis: Arab and non-Arab groups, the Chadian and the Sudanese governments, and the United Nations. To read David Buchbinder’s latest report on Chad, please click here.
STF meets with Ishmael Beah
April 6, 2007: Bestselling author and former child soldier Ishmael Beah met with STF and discussed his childhood in Sierra Leone and the onset of the civil war that pushed him to join the army as a young boy. Given the increasing use of child soldiers in Darfur, STFers were very interested in Ishmael’s remarks, and were pleased to hear about the “Child Soldier Prevention Act of 2007,” (Durbin Bill) and encouraged all who attended to support this bill by calling their senators.
To learn more about Human Rights Watch’s and the Student Task Force’s work on child soldiers, please click here.
Crossroads “Silhouettes of Darfur”
March 22, 2007: Crossroads students may have been alarmed by the presence of chalk outlines of bodies on the ground all over their campus. No one had died in Santa Monica, however: Crossroads’ STF pursued a new avenue of awareness-raising in a unique action they called “Silhouettes of Darfur.” Each “silhouette” contained names of Darfuri victims or destroyed villages. STFers also collected signatures to accompany a letter to the Sudanese Ambassador to the U.S, urging him to comply with a variety of international protocols.
New Roads Camp Darfur
March 21, 2007: The new Human Rights Watch Student Task Force at New Roads introduced 150 fellow New Roads students to the humanitarian crisis in Darfur. Unlike other Camp Darfur events, New Roads decided to focus exclusively on the crimes against humanity and humanitarian crisis in Darfur. Five tents were set up, each of which featured two STFers who provided background information on Darfur and life in the camps. In addition to the Darfuri testimonials, New Roads students heard first-hand accounts from Gabriel Stauring and Camp Darfur participant Stacey Martino of their visit to the refugee camps in Chad.
STF Ambassadors Present at Santa Monica Library
March 18, 2007: Joined by Benjamin Ajak, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, STF Ambassadors for Darfur from Wildwood, Crossroads and Venice High gave a moving presentation to the Santa Monica audience on the background of the crisis in Darfur and what the international community has done to stop these crimes against humanity. Ajak is co-author of “They Poured Fire on Us from the Sky”.
Cornerstone Prep Charter School Camp Darfur
March 1, 2007: The Cornerstone middle school students’ Camp Darfur experience began with an introduction to genocide by Selma and Alfred Benjamin, two Holocaust survivors. Later, STF docents introduced the students to Darfur’s violence in three tents dedicated to the history of the Darfur crisis, food, education and water in the refugee camps. In a fourth tent, the middle schoolers shared what they had learned and read Darfuri victims’ testimonies.
Meeting with Congresswoman Jane Harman
February 23, 2007: STF members from Venice High met with Congresswoman Jane Harman to present her petitions collected during Camp Darfur (see above), and to urge her to make Darfur a priority on the Congressional agenda. Harman was encouraged to see young people engaged in such important international human rights issues and welcomed the STFers’ suggestions. In addition to urging her stronger leadership role to protect the people of Darfur, STF requested that she include Darfur on her website to demonstrate her concern for the crisis and to help raise awareness among her constituents.
Crossroads Camp Darfur
February 12-13, 2007: The STFers acted as docents and escorted their classmates-from 7th graders to 12th graders-through four tents dedicated either to a genocide (Cambodia, Rwanda) or to political and social aspects of the current campaign of ethnic cleansing in Darfur. STFers discussed life in refugee camps (access to food, water, and education), and Gabriel Stauring provided firsthand accounts of what he saw over the course of his two visits to camps in Chad. At the end of their visit, students were encouraged to sign a petition to Senator Barbara Boxer, thanking her for her dedication to stopping the crimes against humanity in Darfur.
STF Representatives Meet Congressman Henry Waxman
January 28, 2007: Two STFers from Pacific Palisades High and Wildwood attended the Pacific Palisades Democratic Club meeting to present Congressman Henry Waxman with petitions collected during actions at their schools. Both the Congressman and the audience were impressed with the STF’s dedication to stopping the crimes against humanity in Darfur. Waxman urged the students to keep up the good work, advising them in particular to continue putting pressure on President Bush.
Venice High Awarded CTA Peace and Justice Caucus Youth Activism Certificate of Commendation
January 27, 2007: STFers from Venice High attended the California Teachers Association’s annual conference in downtown Los Angeles to accept a certificate of commendation from the CTA’s Peace and Justice Caucus for their dedication to the plight of Darfurians. The ceremony included a number of awards, granted both to individual youth activists and to groups, and the STFers listened attentively to the inspiring stories of youth making a difference across the state of California.
Wildwood School Camp Darfur
January 23, 2007: The Wildwood STF incorporated comparative elements into the camp set-up; however, they also discussed availability of medicine, health care, and water in the camps. To this end, their “refugee camp” featured laptops with the game “Darfur is Dying” set up, so their fellow students could identify with a Darfuri refugee who must seek water or firewood. Another way in which Wildwood personalized the Camp Darfur experience was by incorporating Darfuri refugees’ testimony, read by various STFers during their colleagues’ visit to the tents.
Ambassadors for Darfur
The STFers from all four schools worked together to create an advocacy program called Ambassadors for Darfur that brings their dedication to Darfur to other schools and community organizations. The STF Ambassadors for Darfur took part in several training sessions, during which they have learned about the history of the Sudan and have created presentations that will help spread the word about the plight of Darfurians. These Ambassadors are planning visits to elected representatives and presentations in schools and public libraries. The Ambassadors for Darfur recognize that education is the first step in an advocacy campaign, and want to share this wisdom with anyone who will listen.
i-ACT and Gabriel Stauring in Chad, searching for Ahmat:
Over winter break, while most students were relaxing or traveling, members of the STF logged on to Gabriel Stauring’s Stop Genocide Now website to watch his iAct videos, posted each day during his 15 day visit to Chad and the refugee camps along Chad’s border with Sudan. STFers, hoping for news from Ahmat, a teenager that Gabriel met during his 2005 trip to Chad, watched video and posted words of encouragement and resolve on the i-ACT discussion forum.
Click here for Gabriel Stauring’s interview with Ahmat.
Pacific Palisades Charter High “Die-In for Darfur”
December 14, 2006: 30 Pacific Palisades Charter High students “died” during their lunch period. Dressed in black shirts, STFers staged a “Die-In for Darfur” to raise awareness among Pali High students of the continuing and increasing violence in Darfur. While many of the club members lay dead, their fellow STF members read Darfuri refugee testimonies over a microphone, so that the student body could hear a sampling of the crimes against humanity committed on a daily basis in Darfur. Other members collected signatures on a petition urging Congressman Henry Waxman to continue to fight for the protection of Darfurians.
Camp Darfur at Venice High
December 6, 2006: Venice High compared life in a refugee camp with life in the U.S. in various ways, including displaying the daily food ration of an American teenager (hot dogs, apples, etc.) next to the daily ration of a refugee (millet mixed with ginger and onion, when available). Each tent featured an STFer who gave a brief presentation on the topic and fielded questions from over 1,500 visitors throughout the day. They collected nearly 2,000 signatures on a petition to Congresswoman Jane Harman, urging her to do more to protect the people of Darfur. For more on this event, please click here to see the article in the Santa Monica Mirror.
HRW Annual Dinner
November 15, 2006: Over 50 STF members and faculty advisors attended this event, thanks to sponsorship by HRW donors. The dinner honored three human rights defenders from Nepal, Zimbabwe and Mexico. The STF, along with Gabriel Stauring, set up a Camp Darfur tent and welcomed guests while raising awareness about the campaign of ethnic cleansing in Darfur. Several STFers manned clipboards with a petition addressed to President Bush, pressing him to do more to keep Darfur on the international agenda.
Advocacy Training Workshop
October 13, 2006: Over 40 STF representatives from Crossroads School, Pacific Palisades Charter High School, Venice High School, and Wildwood School gathered to receive up-to-date information about the deteriorating crisis in Darfur, Sudan, and to work together to plan a yearlong awareness-raising campaign dedicated to the protection of the people of Darfur. Many ideas were generated, including the creation of a program of Ambassadors for Darfur.