Words from the Inaugural Speech

We thought we'd share some of our favorite bits of President Obama's speech today.

"We do not believe that in this country, freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few."  

(And, here's the writer in me...the word "that" seems awkwardly placed.  Perhaps saying, "In this country, we do not believe that freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few" might capture the thought more clearly-- at least the thought I was thinking.) 

This is a beauty: "...we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice--not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes: tolerance and opportunity; human dignity and justice."

But this is the line that brought tears to my eyes: "We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths -- that all of us are created equal -- is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those great men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth."



Abyei, again.

Just yesterday our friends at Enough! posted a blog with a link to a full report on the current situation in Abyei, a region straddling the border between Sudan and South Sudan that is still disputed by the two countries and the indigenous peoples who live in or migrate through the region.

There's a video, definitely worth watching.

And this is the link to the full report, definitely worth reading.

Here's how things look...


Sudan update...

I've cut the text of this article from the website, because as I so often find, the comments are excrutiatingly redonkulous...But it's a eye opening article about what's happening in Blue Nile and South Kordofan STILL.  A YEAR LATER. About people being bombarded from the air, starved, having to flee their homes, dying.  STILL. There's no debate that it's happening. There are credible sources, Nicholas Kristoff among them, that have shown us pictures.  But it's STILL going on.

At some point our government and the other governments of the world are going to have to do something.  I for one am WAITING.

Residents in Sudan border states survive on roots, leaves: UN

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations warned on Tuesday of a worsening humanitarian crisis in Sudan's conflict-torn southern region, amid reports that people there were starving to death and others were surviving on roots and leaves.

"This is 2013 and to think that tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people are living in such desperate and deplorable circumstances, and we can't get in to help them as humanitarian organizations, it's just not acceptable," John Ging, a senior U.N. humanitarian official, told reporters.

He was referring to the situation in the southern Sudanese states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, which have been racked with conflict for more than a year, causing hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes.

Rebels in the area, known as SPLM-North, say they are fighting to protect ethnic minorities from repression and marginalization, while Khartoum accuses them of trying to spread chaos at the bidding of South Sudan, which seceded last year.

Fighting began in South Kordofan in June 2011, just before South Sudan seceded from the north, and spread to Blue Nile in September of the same year.

U.N. and other humanitarian aid agencies say they have been barred from the region by Khartoum, which denies the charge and insists there is no humanitarian crisis there.

Ging said that those who escaped from the area spoke of people "relying on roots and leaves."

"We're not allowed in to do the assessments," Ging said after briefing the 15-nation U.N. Security Council behind closed doors. "I do have to communicate what we're being told by the people who are fleeing ... People are dying in South Kordofan, that is what we are told."

"When we look at the emaciated state of the children and adults who have successfully made the journey out of these two areas, we can see in their physical state the obvious suffering they have endured for a very long time that has resulted in them being in this appalling condition," he added.


South Sudan seceded from Sudan under a 2005 peace deal that ended decades of civil war, but both countries have yet to agree on ownership of several disputed border regions.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said Washington remained "deeply concerned by the continued deterioration of the humanitarian situation" in the two states.

"We're also deeply concerned about the ongoing aerial bombardments by the Sudanese Armed Forces, including in civilian areas," she said.

Rice called on Khartoum and the SPLM-North to grant aid agencies access to South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

Speaking to reporters after the council meeting, Sudan's U.N. Ambassador Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman reiterated his allegations that South Sudan was supporting the rebels in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

Sudan and South Sudan are under threat of Security Council sanctions if they fail to resolve their remaining disputes and settle on a comprehensive peace plan.

South Sudan said on Monday it hoped to establish a demilitarized zone along its border with arch-rival Sudan within a month, paving the way for vital oil exports to resume.

Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and South Sudan's Salva Kiir met in Ethiopia over the weekend to try to quell tensions that have rumbled since a flare-up of violence along the disputed border last year, the worst since the South seceded.


Peace on Earth.

We're all thinking of the families in Newton, CT today. Our hearts are with them, and we wish for an end to violence here, and around the world.


Recently, In the DRC, Washington, D.C. and Oregon...

As you all know, the conflict in the DRC has been ongoing for years. Three weeks ago, the Rebel Group in Congo, M23, invaded Goma and forced out the Congolese army. During the invasion, 130,000 people were evacuated and displaced into make shift shelters around Goma, and countless women and children have suffered from acts of sexual violence. Despite the withdrawal of M23 on December 1st, the effects of the invasion are still ongoing.


CARE, one of our partners in the Students Rebuild Challenge, has staff working on the ground in these makeshift camps. The bravery of the Congolese people is evident and can be seen in the pictures below:

Sabine Wilke/CARESabine Wilke/CARE

Sabine Wilke/ CARE

The Rebel Group, M23’s invasion has brought the DRC back into the media spotlight once again and the need for collective and effective emergency relief efforts is evident. Yesterday, Congress held a hearing about Eastern Congo where experts like John Prendergast (Co-founder of the Enough! Project), The Honorable Johnnie Carson (U.S. Ambassador and Assistant Secretary, the Bureau of African American Affairs at the State Department), Steve Hege (Former member of the United Nations Group of Experts on the DRC) and Mvemba Dizolele (Stanford University), urged President Obama to take a tougher stance against Rwanda for supporting the M23 Rebels. You can also express your concern about the DRC to our leaders; call Ambassador Rice and tell her that the Congo needs our help, like Gavin did. Gavin is our Oregon Coordinator, Alysha Atma’s son, who called Ambassador Rice last night after the hearing and urged her to protect his brothers and sisters in the Congo. If Gavin can do it, we can all do it. 

Make a bone today in honor of Gavin’s courage, the bravery of the Congolese people, the compassion and strength of CARE’s field staff and stand together with us for Peace in Congo and all over the world.