The sun is now setting on world refugee day and the clock is quickly closing in on my first willing 24 hours without eating. I’ve almost completed day one of my three day fast for Darfur. I realized today, that with the exception of an occasional stomach bug, I’ve never in my life gone more than a few hours without eating. What a remarkable thing… That I have spent almost 30 years on this earth and never known what it feels like to go to bed on an empty stomach. I know that tonight across America there will be millions unwillfully going hungry, and worldwide more than a billion will do so. I know that I am blessed for having never faced a hunger for the very basic needs of humanity. That is what makes this fast so important to me.
When this fast was first mentioned to me I really didn’t see much merit in my participation. I have spoken out about the suffering in Darfur for a number of years. I have felt an activist’s frustration in pouring your heart in an issue to see little. and sometimes even negative, progress. I have also seen some of the most brilliant and caring individuals who have spent their life trying to end these atrocities against our fellow man. As a now former athlete in a small sport, my media star does not burn quite as brightly as it once did, so I was not sure that my fasting would really have any impact in the world other than me being somewhat cranky (I am renowned amongst my family and friends as being INTOLERABLE to be around when I haven’t eaten). But over the last few days I have begun to think about this fast differently.
I sent out notes to friends and family and told them I would be participating in a fast for Darfur, leading up to my 30th birthday. Almost instantly word began to trickle in from athletes, friends, people who followed me as a speedskater but that I have not met, that they would be joining with me as I fast. Each of these people are willing to make a sacrifice for people they have never met, simply because they feel it is the right thing to do! There are many terrible things that happen in this world, and the murdering in Darfur must end, but I constantly find my faith in people renewed. This fast itself may not help to end suffering, but I guarantee it will make us more aware of the injustices around us. Once people become truly aware, then the world begins to change.
These people in Darfur, our brothers and sisters, can be saved – lets keep up the fight.
PS – Apologies for any spelling/grammatical mistakes, I’m not the most careful editor even when my head is totally clear!