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Opinion

Sudanese forgotten, not lost

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September 29, 2006

A small African child cowers in the corner of his family’s modest hut, his body shaking uncontrollably. He watches as his father is dragged out into the street by a group of armed militiamen. A rifle is placed to the back of the man’s head, and with a single shot the life is taken out of him. His lifeless body falls to the ground and a torrent of blood stains the gravel road red.

This sounds like a scene from the Rwandan conflict of the mid 1990s, but the truth is that scenes like this are occurring now in present day Sudan. Shocking as it may seem, this conflict has received little attention from the news media, and the world in general.

Africa seems to be an area of the world that many people choose to ignore because of the conflicts with Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and North Korea.

Africa is perhaps the portion of the world that needs the most help, yet is receiving the least. Along with the conflict that is occurring in Sudan, Africa also has the highest infection rate of AIDS and HIV anywhere on earth. According to the international charity Avert, nearly 25 million people are infected with AIDS and HIV in Africa.

On a humanitarian level, this is a catastrophe. Many of these people do not have access to AIDS medication that could prolong their lives. This means they will be infected and die in a very short period of time, leaving behind children that inevitably become orphans. In other cases, children are born with AIDS and most of them don’t even make it into their adolescent years. The cases of children with AIDS and HIV in Africa are astounding. One of the main reasons for this is the “virgin cure” myth.

“South Africa is strife-torn with major socioeconomic problems as well as the myth that sex with virgins can rid men of HIV/Aids and other sexually-transmitted diseases,” Mike Earl Taylor, a university researcher, said in a Science in Africa magazine article.

This is a sad fact of life for many people in South Africa, and in many other nations on the African continent. The lack of education in certain parts of Africa allows myths like this to protrude into tribal culture, and the victims of this lack of education end up being young women and children who end up getting raped and infected by HIV-positive men.

So with all these catastrophes going on in Africa, the question arises: What can be done to make a difference?

The first step is just being aware that things like this are going on in the world. Too many of us are indifferent when it comes to learning about the world outside of our prospective bubbles. Abhorrent things do happen in the world today, but we as a society have the power to stop them if we do not stand for it. Secondly, you can donate to organizations like the Red Cross. There are accredited charities out there that make sure your money gets to the right people. World Vision is a charity that allows you to donate directly
to those who are suffering from the War in Sudan.

Being informed and making donations may seem like minuscule things, but if enough caring people are informed they become a force to be reckoned with.

Derrick Knutson is a student at UW-River Falls.