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Dear Sudan, Love, Davis/Woodland

Grassroots, community-wide advocacy and relief effort to raise awareness about genocidal conditions in Darfur, Sudan.

Community Contact Information:
Congregation Bet Haverim
Davis, CA
http://www.bethaverim.org/
http://www.dearsudan.org/index.php

Goals:

  • Raise funds to feed the equivalent of the local population for one day in Darfur, or in the refugee camps in Chad.
  • Raise awareness in the community of the situation in Darfur which leads to education, advocacy and relief.
  • Create an alliance with other community organizations.

Overview:
Preparation:
On Rosh Hashanah, the rabbi delivered a sermon calling upon congregants to respond to the dire suffering in the Darfur region of Sudan, beginning an effort by congregants to bring local attention to the genocide in Darfur and to engage the communities of Davis and Woodland, CA, in a “Dear Sudan” project.

The centerpiece of the “Dear Sudan” concept is to raise funds to feed the equivalent of your community’s population for one day in Darfur, or in the refugee camps in Chad.At the 16 cents per day rate achievable by Church World Service, the commitment for the community was to raise $17,500, enough to feed 110,000 Darfuri refugees – a number equal to the combined populations of Davis and Woodland.

In addition to members of the synagogue, members of local churches and college students, with significant support from members of Rotary and Soroptimists, created a taskforce to further this goal. At the first planning meeting, which featured a screening of the film “Witnessing Darfur”, a production of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and Tim Nonn, national director and founder of the Dear Sudan movement as a guest, attendees committed to leadership roles and exploratory committees to determine and define the structure, goals and future of the taskforce.

Project Implementation:
The implementation of this effort involved a variety of projects:

Publicity and Outreach:
Publicity for events included advance coverage in local papers, distribution of flyers in the community, and segments on the local evening news.Members took turns staffing a table at the local farmers’ market, armed with informational brochures, fliers, advocacy postcards and petitions calling upon state and national leaders to prioritize the crisis in Darfur, and plastic “Change for Darfur” containers and donation forms.

Fair for Darfur:
The “Fair for Darfur,” held at the synagogue, focused on raising awareness of the genocide and efforts to address it. More than one hundred people turned out to hear a speaker from Sudan detail the historical and cultural issues contributing to the current political situation in Darfur. Attendees also watched an African dance performance by local youth, participated in a unique shelter-building activity using materials similar to those available to Darfur refugees), assembled “Change for Darfur” containers and took home green ribbons for Darfur made by a local Girl Scout troop. Approximately $3,000 in donations was collected.

Dinner for Darfur:
The “Dinner for Darfur” was the next focus of our program. The event was held at a local church free of charge, and a local community member donated her culinary skills and helped arrange for the donation of all foods. 400 tickets were sold. During the event, a Power Point presentation summarizing the current situation in Darfur was given, followed by an African-inspired meal. Themed musical entertainment, poetry readings and door prizes rounded out the program. Volunteers handed out advocacy materials and sold “End the Genocide” t-shirts. A total of $9,000 was raised throughout the evening.

The combined Christian, Jewish and Islamic faith communities of Davis and Woodland designated the cause of Darfur as the beneficiary of the offering at the interfaith Thanksgiving services.

Results:
The alliance’s fundraising goal was surpassed, and totaled nearly $21,000. In addition, the variety of programs engaged over 25 volunteers in advocacy and educational programming, and drew over 500 people to participate in their programs, raising awareness in the community at large about Darfur.