Davis Kids Examine Apathy & Genocide

by Allan Appel | November 16, 2009 10:31 AM | | Comments (1)

IMG_8279.JPGAttention to Darfur may be in steep decline in recent years as America looks inward to face its own problems. But caring about that far-away genocide in the western province of Sudan is on the rise at Davis 21st Century Magnet School.

What’s more, at least some of the kids in Gail DeBlasio’s 6th grade at Davis intend to do something about it.

Up to an estimated 400,000 people have died in the Darfur conflict.

On Friday afternoon Rhianna Bennett (left in photo) was researching the abuses of women in Darfur. Her classmate N’ya Clark had also begun researching women, but became sidetracked by personality of Sudanese president Omar el-Bashir.

If el-Bashir walked into the computer lab at Davis’s temporary digs at the old Mauro building on Orchard Street, here’s how she would have questioned him: “Why do you intentionally hurt [your own] people of Darfur?”

She also wanted to know why, given the dire straits Darfur and all Sudan are in, does he spend so much time traveling to places like China and Saudi Arabia.

The girls and their classmates were hoping to get some answers from different visitors expected at Davis on Friday: a group of social activist students from Danbury High who’ve raised $100,000 to build a school in Darfur.

IMG_8276.JPGThese high-schoolers, like Ben Greger, showed DeBlasio’s class avideo they had made.

As images of brutality flickered across the screen in Davis’s lobby, not a few of the kids were seen to be crying.

IMG_8277.JPGEven strong boys like Kevin Armstrong were gripped and troubled. What he remembered most when the video concluded was the orange tinted hair on some of the Darfurian kids.

The Danbury students’ advisor, Assistant Principal Tim Salem, explained that the hair color is a sign of the onset of malnutrition. Within 48 to 72 hours, without nutrition and intervention, those kids would be dead.

IMG_8278.JPGN’ya Clark asked Salem how Bashir could commit [genocide] crimes against his people. Salem explained that although the Hague had issued an arrest warrant, serving it is difficult.

He explained to Brianna Jenkins (sitting next to Rhianna) that the situation in the displaced people’s camps is so severe, there is only one doctor for every 40,000 people. Brianna asked if the doctor could be replaced if he left or was killed.

She also asked why children had to fight in the civil war there.

Salem said they had no choice.

While Salem and his students had lots of facts, they, like many people in the world who pay attention to Darfu, couldn’t explain why such horrors are allowed to occur.

If this reporter were a child, he would think the adult world had really bungled this one.

IMG_8272.JPGDeBlasio (pictured here with Ben Greger and Tim Salem) and her kids were not deterred. In the run-up to the school’s International Day in May, when their project is due, Rhianna said her group might take action.

They’re considered putting together their own video. “In pictures you can really see what’s happening,” she said.

IMG_8267.JPGAs her kids went off to the cafeteria, with much to think about, DeBlasio remarked, “I think people short-change youngsters. How passionate they become about social justice. They really want to do something. Now it’s my job to provide an outlet.”

She said she hopes that the video her class puts together includes a debate about world apathy toward the genocide.

Previous stories about Davis Street 21st Century Magnet School:

Reading Target Set: 90% By February
Principal Finds A Place For “Magic”
Comer Is Back
Principal Keeps School On The Move
Pot Melts
So Long, Old Davis
Music History Steps Offstage
Music Video Of The Week

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Posted by: Lee | November 17, 2009 8:11 AM

This film gives the perspective of local children, in Darfur: www.localfims.org/darfur

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