Photo from MTVu.com Photographer: MTVu Team
I first read about Stephanie when I was learning about the MTVu show, Translating Genocide: Three Students Journey to Sudan that took three students to Sudan to learn first hand about the horrendous acts that were committed against the citizens in the countryside who have to live with the daily horror of living in war. Below is her picture of a woman at the malnutrition centre in 2004. Stephanie is part of the Genocide Intervention Network, an organization dedicated to stopping the genocide in Sudan through intensive activism, lobbying and broad campaigns.
I met Stephanie briefly at a dinner held to celebrate Black History Month at my college, which is in the Swarthmore neighborhood. She has appeared in Glamour magazine for her efforts and I was in transit a few weeks ago when I noticed that she was in the March 2007 issue speaking of her personal losses in the Rwanda genocide and the passion with which she pursues ending this genocide. Lest we forget 1994, I hope that each one of us will speak out against the horrors in Sudan, and be the generation that did not forget.
Here is further coverage about Ms Nyombayire: ( Source: GI-NET.net)
In 2006 she wrote to fellow students:
Eleven years ago, I lost one hundred of my family members. My grandparents were shot and many of my uncles and aunts were killed along with their children. In one hundred days, Hutu extremists armed with machetes any weapon they could find slaughtered half of the Tutsi population as the international community not only chose to stand by and watch but also pulled out all peacekeepers, leaving 400 unarmed men to stop a mass campaign of genocide. The images of countless dead bodies floating down rivers were only granted a few minutes of attention. Instead people chose to go back to their daily lives as thousands of Rwandans were abandoned to their fate. Despite the promise of “never again” proclaimed after the Holocaust, the world had turned its back on the Rwandans.
Today, as you read these lines, another genocide is happening in the Darfur region of Sudan. More than 400,000 innocent men, women and children have been victims of systematic killings and rape and three million have been displaced. In March 2005, I traveled to Chad with MTVu where 200,000 Darfurians have taken refuge. In one of the camps, I met one young girl whose story I will always remember. At 15 years old, she had seen both her parents getting killed before being raped by the Janjaweeds. She then had to walk for 50 days across the desert to reach safety in Chad. She was now living on her own in the refugee camps with no hope that tomorrow will be a better day. Her story is only one in millions.
We must refuse to let Darfur become another Rwanda. It is my hope that I can one day look into the eyes of the children I spoke to and show them that we have heard their voice and we did not stand by and watch their pain and sufferings. Take action today by becoming a member of the permanent constituency against genocide. There is no more time for excuses. You must speak out.
Coverage of Stephanie Nyombayire
- “Telling the stories of Sudan’s horror,” Delaware County Times, March 20, 2005
- “Students take action to aid Sudan,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, April 11, 2005
- “Rwandan teen, excelling in U.S., now lobbies for Darfur aid,” Associated Press, June 14, 2005
- “Learning from the tragedy of the past,” The Dallas Morning News, July 2, 2005
- “A student, 16, confronts the unthinkable,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 14, 2006
As one activist to another, I salute Ms Nyombayire for her courage and resolve to let the world do its duty to protect those with no peace.