During the talk that In Kenzo and I gave at RootsCamp on SL political organizing last week, In Kenzo brought up that she and a team of other volunteers had been working very hard over the past months to create the virtual Camp Darfur as an awareness raising and politicizing tool. I realized that I hadn’t been to Camp Darfur since May and that I should see what has changed since then.
I spent some time there today and was very impressed with how much it has developed the past six months.
When I first visited Camp Darfur (teleport SLURL), it seemed more like a ghost town than a refugee camp. Rather bland and solid looking tents displayed large posters with basic info about what was happening in the Sudan. A cheery campfire with a cooking pot gurgling away sat in the center of the camp. It seemed interesting, but not really engaging.
The new camp has a much more cluttered and dense feel about it with images of refugees, makeshift tents, sad looking trees, a jeep, crates of donated food lying about.
The first thing you see upon rezzing onto the island is what looks like a village in flames and abstract figures decorated with skulls, symbolizing the war and destruction that have caused the Sudanese to flee by the thousands. There are no bodies or soldiers, but the machine gun and ax lying nearby make clear the violence that causes these people to flee.
There are links everywhere to websites with news about the war in Sudan, the plight of the refugees and what humanitarian groups on the ground are trying to do. Activist group websites like savedarfur.org and stopgenocidenow.org urge you to sign up to show your support for the refugees and appeal to the US government to do something to stop the violence and destruction.
You can pick up a free tee-shirt and wristband to show your solidarity with the refugees. They have even created a Camp Darfur comic book which you can purchase for the bargain price of L$1.
The most arresting part of the camp is a video showing Sudanese talking about their lives in the camps and how they got there. In Kenzo tells me that starting on December 24, Gabriel Stauring, who initiated the idea of Camp Darfur, will be returning to the Sudan and filming a live video diary of life in the camps for two weeks. These video blogs will be available every day in Camp Darfur for those who want to know what’s happening on the ground right now. It promises to be arresting stuff.
I’ll be sure and be back to check it out in December. You should too.