Darfur Fast for Life

We fast in solidarity with the hungry and starving in Darfur and for lasting peace in Sudan
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Shannon Sedgwick Davis


Shannon Sedgwick Davis is a partner at Bridgeway Foundation, the charitable giving arm of Bridgeway Capital Management, Inc. The Houston-based investment firm commits one-half of its annual profits towards philanthropic endeavors that focus on eliminating genocide as well as the promotion of peace, reconciliation, and human rights around the world.

Shannon has been a passionate advocate for social justice and international human rights her entire professional career. Shannon has spent a significant amount of time traveling abroad working to free children from slavery and stop some of the conflicts raging on the globe. She is a member of a number of non-profit boards working both within the US and abroad. An attorney, Shannon currently resides in her hometown of San Antonio, Texas with her husband and 2 boys.

Sunday, Day 38

May 24, 2009 By: Admin Category: Shannon Sedgwick Davis

I broke my fast today with the same person I started it all with, Pam. There is no conceivable way I could have made it through this time without her propping me up all along the way. Pam and I share similar passions and a similar heart for change, peace and justice. She has been one of the greatest gifts I have received in this journey to seek a better world and she came just at the right time.

Among friends here at our Elders meeting I filled my plate at the buffet with a hard-boiled egg, a piece of beef, asparagus and oddly enough, beans and rice (the plate looked out of balance with out the beans and rice). As I sat down to eat I was overwhelmed with emotion. Emotion I couldn’t understand but my eyes filled with tears and I had to sit for several moments and regain composure before eating. With incredible depth of insight Pam reached out and held my hand. It was hard to eat, I am still not sure why but it was and I didn’t eat much. I chose to sit at a table that continued discussions from our earlier board meeting about Zimbabwe. As I sat and ate, others around the table recounted the horror stories of what is now Zimbabwe. 4 to 5 Million People in need of aid; life expectancy which was once in the 50′s and 60′s now down to 36. A completely broken down and unsafe water system; water has to be trucked in. A healthcare system (if you can call it a system without implying any type of order) that runs at 1/3 capacity. And so on, and so on.

The celebratory feast I might have dreamed about during my fast was not that. It was drenched in emotion and new notice of yet another despicable tragedy on our globe. I have learned much about myself, much about my heart, much about my strengths and even more about my weaknesses. The reasons I began the fast were not the same reasons I continued it and are now not the same reasons I end it. I am left hungrier for change than food but more realistic about the hurdles that lie ahead. I am empty on one hand and recharged on the other.

This fast was deeply personal and it remains that. I must wake up to every new day with the courage to fight harder. I must fight at home and abroad. I must model for my young boys what really counts in the world and that they must have respect for all of mankind. I must be increasingly fervent in my prayers for a miracle, because a miracle is what it will take.

Much love and gratefulness for all who listened and heard, Shannon

Day 31

May 17, 2009 By: Admin Category: Shannon Sedgwick Davis

I have lost approximately 10% of my body weight in 31 days, my hair is still falling out and I still have that annoying sour taste in my mouth. My friends all look at me and say, “you look so tired.” I live in the nicest of conditions with the cleanest of water and the most available of food. I am tired. A 3 year old and 4 month old take a good amount of my energy on most days.

I wonder about the mothers of Darfur. Compassion means to “suffer with.” That was my desire when I began this fast. To suffer with the moms there in the camps. Who was I kidding? Impossible. I barely scratch the surface.

There is something incredibly dangerous about knowledge. In this case it is the same as notice. I’ve been there, seen the faces of those moms and their children. I have listened with my own ears to their cries for peace and security. I have held their hands and cried with them. I am on notice. It is happening. Every bit of it. As far away and foreign as we all want it to be, it is not. It takes less than a day to be there in their midst. As incredible technology affords my 3 year old a little touch screen gadget that fits in his pocket that will play any number of videos or games on his command in half a second, there they wait. Waiting there in the most prehistoric and tragic of conditions which fight their everyday efforts to stay alive and keep their families alive.

Knowledge = Notice.

Am I an accomplice?

We fast in solidarity with the people of Darfur

May 16, 2009 By: Shannon Category: Shannon Sedgwick Davis


Shannon’s Statement

Day 27

May 13, 2009 By: Admin Category: Shannon Sedgwick Davis

A great friend made a comment today about joy. This is something that I have been missing quite a bit in my life lately. Amidst a terrible despair about the state of the globe and the lack of my normal intake of calories I really have been angry and saddened. I must find a way to experience and exude joy in my life even though I am saddened by so much. Archbishop Tutu does this in an indescribable way. You can see this in the essence of his very being through a contagious laughter that I have seen in the most formal of meetings and also in the Darfur refugee camps. He possesses a sincere capacity for joy that I envy. I think perhaps I am angry to a certain extent with God. Confused and pondering why so much suffering is allowed to continue.

Today is Day 27 of my fast, there is grim news from Sudan. Reports of bombing by the Government of Sudan in Northern Darfur. Additionally, there is recent news from the ground that the refugee camp HasaHisa has completely run out of water. There is also grim news from Burma as a dear sister of peace is now being threatened with a return to a certain horrific captivity. It reminds me of her strength and enduring courage Aung San Suu Kyi has spent a lifetime separated from loved ones and from the life and authority that was rightfully hers all taken from her by evil persons.

We owe it to Aung San Suu Kyi to fight for peace, we owe it to sweet Arch Tutu, we owe it to ourselves because we are accountable for what happens on our watch.

Day 24 — Mother’s Day

May 10, 2009 By: Admin Category: Shannon Sedgwick Davis

My prayer for today is that all mothers will join together in standing up for the mothers of Darfur. That as moms we will no longer tolerate children dying at the hand of evil. I feel so blessed to be a mom and at the same time empowered. Being a mother is an incredibly empowering thing. My heart is not my own but rather it resides in the bodies of my little 3 year old and 4 month old….. so much so that I can’t imagine the intense pain I would feel if I was unable to protect and provide for my children. I would be crying out for help, help from anywhere, help from everywhere. My hope would rest in knowing there are mothers all across the globe who would understand the desperation I felt and would show up in support. I pray that as mothers we show up and show up now.

Day 23

May 09, 2009 By: Admin Category: Shannon Sedgwick Davis

I am grouchy today. After yesterday’s nightmare news with Mandate Darfur being cancelled I am really discouraged. Seems we just continue to receive bad news from Darfur and then just continue with our day. I am guilty of this, I am still not doing enough. There needs to be a global uproar…. crying out from every corner of the world… we must fight for peace. If we could see peace in Darfur perhaps then we would see a domino effect of human rights and tolerance taking center stage. This is my prayer. My prayers are desperate at this point. They are focused on a miracle as now it seems that is what we need.

I would encourage any of you in this fight to surround yourselves with friends and others who are like minded with you in this cause. I could never do this without a fantastic community of others who are in the fight. I am grateful for each of them and count myself blessed to have them in my life.

Pray for change.

Day 22

May 09, 2009 By: Admin Category: Shannon Sedgwick Davis

I was actually a bit hungry today which was kind of surprising as I haven’t been hungry in a while. This morning started off with news of Mia needing to stop the fast. I was so encouraged by her heart and passion for this and am so grateful to Richard for taking the baton. There was also some bad news from Sudan. An extremely important conference that was to take place in Ethiopia this weekend has been cancelled due to intimidation by the Government of Sudan. Bashir continues to wield his evil ways and we the global community continue to sit back and watch. Kristof with the Times covered the news well with his blog, here is his take: http://kristof.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/05/08/another-hope-dashed-in-darfur/

May 8, 2009, 5:31 pm
Another Hope Dashed in Darfur
By Nicholas Kristof

One of the truly hopeful signs recently for Sudan was “Mandate Darfur,” the effort to get Sudanese civil society from Darfur to talk together in Addis Ababa and try to form common positions as a step toward reaching a negotiated solution. The effort was led by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, started by the Sudanese telecoms tycoon of the same name, and it should have been an effort to put Sudanese in charge of their own destiny. And ultimately the only way the madness in Darfur will end is if Sudanese themselves hammer out their differences (and Darfuris have ancient dispute-settlement methods to do just that) and reach a peace agreement.

Unfortunately, with the Addis Ababa conference about to take place, the Sudanese government has refused permission for key players to attend. As a result, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation regretfully cancelled the conference. The Foundation said:

Despite numerous attempts at engagement with the Sudanese government, including sending a delegation to Khartoum and inviting senior figures to address the conference, we were greatly disappointed that Sudanese security services harassed our delegates, confiscated passports and threatened the conference coordinators in Sudan. Ultimately, the government has refused to grant exit visas to the delegates making it impossible for the conference to proceed.

There’s a tendency for new arrivals on the scene — and I’m afraid this may include General Scott Gration, the Obama administration’s envoy — to talk to Sudanese officials, find them intelligent and reasonable, and think, “Hey, I can deal with these people.” It takes about 9 months to discover that they are lying through their teeth. I hope that this Sudanese government action to block a peace conference encourages the Obama administration to look with more skepticism on Sudanese promises and to work harder to bring about peace. This cancelled conference is truly a lost opportunity, but if there is enough of an international outcry — particularly from China and the Arab world — then it just might be reversed so that the peace process could take a step forward.

May 5, 2009

May 05, 2009 By: Admin Category: Shannon Sedgwick Davis

Day 19

Woke up later this morning; I was really tired yesterday. I got Connor (my 3 year old) Fruit Loops for breakfast and then cooked myself some brown rice. I wonder if I will ever eat brown rice again without thinking about what the world allowed to happen to the Darfuri population during these years. I believe we will be held accountable as global citizens for this. I believe our children and our children’s children will ask us about this terrible tragedy…. What will we tell them? I want to be able to tell them that we showed up, that we didn’t tolerate such a nightmare on our watch. That we worked together with citizens of humanity to take a stand and stop this madness. Tomorrow is my water only day. I am dreading it, as last weeks water only day was tough and it took a couple days for me to regain my strength afterwards. Again, I am baffled that we allow people to live like this.

May 2, 2009

May 03, 2009 By: Admin Category: Shannon Sedgwick Davis

Day 16 of fast

I am definitely less hungry than I was, the smaller amount of calories I am eating (around 800 a day) seem to keep my stomach from grumbling. I still get extremely tired around 3 everyday and stay tired until I go to bed. My brain is working less well too…. I have a harder time remembering names, etc. I have had this really odd taste in my mouth the last week or so and I spoke with a doctor who told me it was something called Ketosis.

My fast is not the same as what the Darfuris are undergoing; it is only a small glimpse into their nutritional limits. I have clean water to drink all day and know at all times that I could stop whenever I want or eat something more or different. My heart has been shattered through this process for the mothers. It is one thing to undergo this on your own but to be forced to watch your children go unprovided for has to be the worst nightmare a person could face. Yet these moms stay strong for their children, strong, brave and courageous. I am thinking about these mothers as Mother’s Day approaches here in the United States. As we honor moms here what would it be like to honor moms there? Could we hand them their freedom and livelihoods back as the ultimate Mother’s Day gift. Is it within our power? I believe it is. If we all stand untied and shout from our rooftops, over and over again, I believe change would come.

Please Shout! Shout loud, shout often, shout until this terrible tragedy is stopped!

Some ways you can shout:

Call 1.800.GENOCIDE and tell your congressmen and senators to take up this issue

Text Hillary Clinton every hour at 90822 and ask her to “restore aid to Darfur.”

Talk to everyone you know about this, your neighbors, the congregants in your churches, your co-workers, etc.

Thank you for caring,

Shannon

Wednesday, April 29

April 29, 2009 By: Admin Category: Shannon Sedgwick Davis

8:39 PM

Today was my water only day. I thought it wouldn’t be that tough since I had already gone so many days on such few calories on the refugee diet. I was wrong. Today was really tough; I did pretty good till around 2 and then felt really hungry. By 7 tonight I started to get really dizzy and lightheaded. It baffles me that people live, survive and care for their children on so much less. It is truly convicting. I am going to go to bed soon because of the dizziness and wake up back on the refugee rations. Mia, I am so impressed with you and thinking of you constantly today as this is incredibly difficult.

Monday, April 27

April 27, 2009 By: Admin Category: Shannon Sedgwick Davis

Spoke at Q Conference this afternoon. Had a chance to mention the fast and I am hoping many here will join. The Swine Flu is flooding the press. It is incredible how able America looks responding to this, I am so thankful for that. I wish we could find a way to show up like this in Darfur as well. There was so much creative energy in the room today at the Q Conference, my prayer is that people will reach deep inside themselves and look for creative solutions to the problem. The truth is just by being American citizens we hold more power in our hands than we realize. We must mobilize; use that power to persuade our leaders to take concrete action steps to end the ongoing tragedy in Darfur.

Please text Secretary Hillary Clinton at 90822 asking her to, “restore aid to Darfur.”

Watching Larry King Live right now on CNN waiting on Mia’s segment.

Saturday, April 25

April 26, 2009 By: Shannon Category: Shannon Sedgwick Davis

Just back from the Invisible Children Rescue. I spoke about the fast there and hope fellow San Antonians will join us. It was such an inspiration to be there and see the dedication and passion on the faces of all those present. It gives me an immense amount of hope for the situation in Darfur. So many care and we must all find a way to unify our voices to protect those that are suffering at the hands of evil. Sending a great big shout out to all the organizers for the San Antonio event, they did an incredible job. Praying in desperation tonight for the Darfuri people. Praying that they will soon see a world that no longer allows the injustices they face. Praying that it stops and stops now, that we fight every day for it to be the last day these courageous people have to endure the pain of injustice.

Friday, April 24

April 26, 2009 By: Shannon Category: Shannon Sedgwick Davis

Susan Smylie (a GI Net Karl Wilkens fellow) joined the fast from here in San Antonio, I am so glad that there are others in my hometown participating in this. Susan is wildly passionate about seeing a lasting change for the Darfuri population and it is contagious. I hope we can all be contagious in our passion for justice and a lasting peace for the incredible people of Sudan.

April 22-24

April 26, 2009 By: Shannon Category: Shannon Sedgwick Davis

In Washington DC for the Global Philanthropy Forum, meeting with many of the incredible advocacy groups that exist to bring attention to the issues in Darfur and change the state of play there. I pray for continued collaboration between these groups and effectiveness within their missions. It is incredible to see the sacrifice of all of these people who have rallied around this cause. There is so much left to do. I am deeply discontented with a world where my three year old can play games on an iPod that does incredible things while our brothers and sisters in Darfur suffer and die at the hand of such evil. How does one reconcile these things? I look at my two sons and think about the gravity of love I have for them and know that the mothers in the wretched refugee camps care equally for their children and are forced to watch their children suffer under such terrible conditions.

Sunday, April 19

April 26, 2009 By: Shannon Category: Shannon Sedgwick Davis

I passed out tonight, surely it wasn’t from the lack of calories, I think it had more to do with toxins flushing from my system.  I thought a lot tonight about the mothers in Darfur.  I saw many of them over a year ago and have never lost the image of their strength from my mind.  They are the most courageous women I have ever met.  Day after day they sustain themselves and their children on so little and now even less.  Where is the outcry?  How can this be permitted to continue.  How do we show up for our fellow world citizens…..  for fellow Moms.  I wrestle with the statement our inaction makes about the world.  A devastating reality, I am ashamed.

Saturday, April 18

April 26, 2009 By: Shannon Category: Shannon Sedgwick Davis

Day 2, was pretty tired but got through the day fine.  It is my prayer that this terrible injustice unfolding in Darfur would come to an end and that those who have suffered would see the justice they so richly deserve.  My family went out to dinner; I stayed home to stick to my refugee diet.  I have been starting to share what I am doing with some friends and family.  I have received a wide range of opinions and thoughts.  Most people express concern for me and my health.  This seems a bit silly to me as I think about the small period of time I committed to this and the safety that I will always have immediate access to my “rations food.”  What about the millions who are fasting day after day with no choice?  What about the moms who go days without eating in order to give their small allocations to their young children?  No concern belongs here with me, the concern should be for them, those heroes who despite all odds being stacked against them survive and fight for the day that their lives will be whole again.

Friday, April 17

April 26, 2009 By: Shannon Category: Shannon Sedgwick Davis

Started refugee rations diet today.  Thought I would start a bit early as I just felt compelled to get going.  SO grateful for Mia and her commitment to this cause, her heart and passion to see change is an inspiration and I hope she feels supported with our presence in this.  Grateful for Pam, I am blessed beyond measure to have such a dear friend, fellow mom and soul sister in this endeavor.  It has been so difficult to watch the unraveling of the situation in Darfur.