In the second of two multimedia blogs featuring photos by Liz Lucas, Bob talks about getting a closer look at the fuel-efficient Darfur Stoves—a project supported by music fans and artists like State Radio—and learns how they’re changing women’s lives.
Posts Tagged ‘Darfur’
In the first of two multimedia blogs featuring photos by Liz Lucas, Bob tells the story of his memorable encounter with a family living in the Al Salaam camp for displaced people:
It’s official this week: the southern region of Sudan will secede from the north and form the world’s newest nation.
When I read the news out of Sudan, I always wonder how the latest events are affecting the people I’ve had a chance to get to know on my visits to Darfur.
We have great news to report. The second annual Northhampton Halloween 5K was a smashing success. Oxfam’s own employees were among the 270 people who took part in the run, which raised more than $25,000 to support Oxfam’s work on the ground in Darfur to provide job training for women.
Nessa Stoltzfus, youth engagement manager at Oxfam America, said she took part because she wanted to show her support for the people of Darfur and the organizers of the run itself, the service organization Calling All Crows, which was founded by Chad Stokes of State Radio and tour manager, Sybil Gallagher.
Nessa said: “The Northampton 5K was a concrete action that we could take outside of the office to raise awareness and connect with community supporters about our work in Darfur. State Radio and Calling All Crows did an amazing job of fundraising for us, so it’s great to support their event and let them know how much we appreciate their efforts to fundraise, raise awareness, and get people to take action.”
As you can tell from our new video (above), the Berkeley-Darfur stove is a practical kind of device—plain metal, nothing flashy. After all, it’s designed not for form, but for function: To provide a safe, reliable, efficient fuel source for women living in camps in Darfur, Sudan.
But in its spare time, the stove is also something of a rock star.
In 2009, for example, the band State Radio brought one along on their US tour, asking fans to chip in to buy stoves for families in need. By the end of the tour, they’d raised $100,000, enough for Oxfam’s partner the Darfur Stoves Project to provide stoves for 5,000 displaced families.
When I spoke to State Radio singer Chad Stokes in December, I asked what inspired him to support Oxfam’s relief effort in Darfur, where fighting between armed groups has forced 2.8 million people from their homes since 2003.
“When the situation in Sudan came into the media, six or seven years ago, it struck us as the most pressing humanitarian crisis in the world,” said Stokes, who wrote a song called “Sudan” for the 2007 album The Year of the Crow. “If people just know about it, and can influence their politicians about it, there are things that we can do to help.”
My position at Oxfam America as music artist relations coordinator requires me to take meetings in some very untraditional situations. I’ve become accustomed to requests to meet musicians at places including roadhouse nightclubs, barbecue joints, lounges of tour buses, and even at the side of the stage at a Motörhead concert…but the situation I was invited into last Friday night was my favorite meet-up with an artist ever.
Chad Stokes, our friend from State Radio and their charitable organization Calling All Crows, invited me to attend their Boston-area benefit show to accept a check from them for $100,000 for Oxfam to provide fuel-efficient stoves to women in Darfur. The band and “The Crows” have been collecting donations from fans at State Radio shows around the country, and bolstering the fund with side events like the Northampton Halloween 5K that raised about $14,000.
The show was held in the Somerville Armory, a recently refurbished hall that sparkled inside with twinkling holiday lights, and pulsed with the energy of hundreds of State Radio fans from all over the Northeast who came to show support for the Stoves fund drive. In addition to songs by Stokes, the crowd was treated to surprise short sets by fellow Dispatch bandmate Pete Francis, with Jay Driscoll of Barefoot Truth on slide guitar, Matt Embree of Rx Bandits, and State Radio’s Michael “Maddog” Najarian, who traded his usual drumsticks in for a guitar for the evening.
Before the final set of the evening, I was invited to the stage to collect the check, a giant oversized version that Ed McMahon would have approved of, and say a few words on behalf of Oxfam. Those close to me know that I’m seldom at a loss for words in any situation, but as I walked past the podium to accept the check from Stokes and his partner Sybil Gallagher, as Calling All Crows co-directors Matt Wilhelm and Jeb Gutileus stood by, all of whom were misty-eyed and beaming at seeing the fruits of their hard work being passed on, I choked up in a way I’ve not done for as long as I can remember:
Not long ago I managed to record a quick–and badly lit–video interview with Chad Stokes (from the band State Radio) and Sybil Gallagher (from State Radio’s organization Calling All Crows) backstage before their sold-out show at NYC’s Bowery Ballroom.
In this three-minute clip, Chad and Sybil talk about how State Radio is supporting Oxfam America’s work distributing stoves to poor families, especially women, in Darfur, Sudan, and how you can get involved:
Why is Oxfam distributing stoves in Darfur? Designed with the input of local women, the different models of fuel-efficient stoves can increase security for women and girls in this conflict-affected region; dramatically reduce the cost of purchasing fuel for poor families; or cut the time that women spend preparing meals, giving them more opportunities to earn a decent income outside the home.
Like many of you, we’re all closely following the news about the situation in Sudan today. You may already know that the Sudanese government has revoked the operating license of Oxfam Great Britain. Together, aid groups have been providing life-saving assistance to some of the 2.7 million people displaced in the region.
Among those 2.7 million are the girls in the photo above, which was taken in April 2007 in Kebkabiya, North Sudan. Though the land is dry, the tens of thousands of people in and around Kebkabiya–many of whom have fled here for safety since the crisis erupted in Darfur–have access to clean water. Thanks to humanitarian efforts, Oxfam helped the town to build a water system–its first ever.
Poking around the ReliefWeb site the other day, I stumbled on its analytics page—the place where it lists how many visitors come to the site and the kinds of information they might find there. Administered by the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, ReliefWeb bills itself as a global hub for people who need—or want—to find out what’s happening with humanitarian emergencies around the world. And guess what? In an age of supposed “compassion fatigue,” the number of visitors to the site climbed by 10 percent last year. Read the rest of this entry »
At the end of my street, a healthy new fall crop has sprouted—of signs. What’s for sale? Politicians. At least that’s what the disenchanted folks on the other end of the line hinted at Monday night when my husband and I volunteered to work on a phone bank at our local party headquarters. The mission was to call as many unregistered voters as we could in three hours and convince them that signing up to exercise their electoral right was a breeze—and worth the effort.
“I’m not a voter,” said one lady, making her status sound like a badge of honor. “I don’t like anyone.”