Darfur Fast for Life

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

Pam Omidyar

Pam Omidyar is Chair of the Board of Humanity United, which she also founded in 2005. Humanity United is committed to building a world where mass atrocities and modern-day slavery are no longer possible. Pam is also the chair and founder of HopeLab, an organization that combines the highest standards of scientific research with innovative solutions to improve the health and quality of life of young people with chronic illness. Pam also co-founded Omidyar Network with her husband Pierre. Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm committed to helping people realize their potential.

A mother of three, Pam serves as a board member of USA, for UNHCR and the Tufts University’s Tisch College of Public Service. She earned a bachelors degree from Tufts University and a master’s in molecular genetics from the University of California at Santa Cruz.

Pam Omidyar rejoins the fast

June 05, 2009 By: Admin Category: Pam Omidyar

June 5, 2009

This weekend, I am going to re-join the fast, water-only, for two days. It is important that the chain not be broken. We continue to fast — in solidarity with those who are being denied humanitarian aid in Darfur, who are being terrorized, bombed, and marginalized by their own government’s consent, all while those in power continue to make strong pronouncements against Khartoum yet refuse to exercise the real leadership necessary to stop the killing in Sudan. President Obama’s most recent trip to Cairo and Buchenwald is the latest example of this pattern of behavior. Strong words are a start, but they will not be sufficient to bring lasting peace to the people of Sudan.

When will this chain of fasters end? When we see the global powers work seriously together to end the devastation in Sudan, when we see humanitarian aid not simply restored but not needed because Darfuris are back in their villages, planting their crops and grazing their animals. When the government of Sudan changes their behavior and works to improve the lives of all their citizens — north, south, east, west — and does not simply act in ways that servers only to centralize and preserve its own power.

We will stop when the Obama Administration takes leadership and helps fully coalesce the international commitment to peace in Sudan. I encourage you to visit the “Is this Hope?” campaign to learn more — http://www.isthishope.com/

I really liked what Omer Ismael, of Enough!, said “today we support the people of Darfur, tomorrow we support the people of Congo, the people of Uganda, then support the many other peoples of the world who are going through different difficult experiences…”

How do we continue to build a global movement, an “ecosystem of change” as Peter Gabriel says, where those who have a voice can ensure that we collectively protect and nurture those whose voices are being silenced?

Feeling much gratitude for all the fasters who have come before me and who will fast after me.

Peace, p

ending fast

June 04, 2009 By: Admin Category: Pam Omidyar

June 4, 2009

Hello friends,

Shannon and I broke fast on day 38, while in Morocco with The Elders. Her last blog was very moving and the feeling is mutual. But I promise to post a longer blog soon. Please know how much gratitude I feel for everyone who has fasted and has supported Darfur Fast for Life. I have no plans to end my commitment to peace in all of Sudan and will fast again in a heartbeat if it would bring more action and attention.

Sending you much aloha and ubuntu,


Wednesday, May 21, 2009 – Day 35

May 21, 2009 By: Admin Category: Pam Omidyar

I came across this quote by Confucius:

Tell me – I forget,
Show me – I remember,
Involve me – I understand.

This goes a long way toward capturing what we are trying to do with Darfur Fast for Life. It’s about getting people more involved. It is no longer about sitting passively at one’s computer and collecting e-mails. While that plays a role in any campaign, how do we convince the world that crimes against humanity, mass atrocities, and genocide are horrors that needs to be stopped immediately? How do we convince the world that even one death is one where we were too slow to act?

Here at home, Americans need to be more concerned about the peace, safety, and livelihoods of others on our planet. Today more than ever, the world is so very interconnected, with every nation dependent upon another. I’ve always believed that Americans have too much of everything. We use so much and waste so much. We rarely take stock of what we truly need. The fast definitely has brought that message home more, at least for me.

How do we get more people to care about the many wars devastating millions of lives around the world, even if most of us remain unaffected by them? How do we find ways to tell our leaders that war is no longer a way to resolve government quarrels? When will we come to realize that any war anywhere threatens our common humanity, even as it destroys lives, devastates both land and culture, and tears apart the fabric of society, with no means of repairing it?

I often wonder if part of the problem lies in the flaws of our modern democratic systems. How is it that, even as democracy has spread with unprecedented scope and scale, governments have come to respect the will of their citizens less and less? Some day the will of the people must come to trump to the seductions of power. We all must demand that of our leaders. We all have a voice that we can use to demand better behavior from those in power. When we do, we’ll be one step closer to seeing meaningful peace and progress on our planet.

Sunday, May 17, day 31

May 17, 2009 By: Admin Category: Pam Omidyar

Today, Shannon and I have been on refugee rations for a month. My heart goes out to Shannon today – I just read her blog – Shannon is one of the most articulate and passionate people in this world, working tirelessly to alleviate suffering and restore dignity to people’s lives. All of us ask, “Can we do more?” but we cannot place blame on ourselves – the blame goes to those committing the crimes. All we can do is try different approaches when our rational cries for accountability and peace are ignored. This fast may be a stunt, but it is making news – no longer can we passively collect email signatures or post news on Facebook – we must do more. Shannon is an upstander who truly does more.

There was good news out of the Hague today: Abu Garda, the head of the United Resistance Front faction in Darfur, is heading to the Hague in response to a summons to appear, issued by the ICC. He is going voluntarily. I point now to both the Reuters article as well as a video showing the rebel leaders willingness to support international justice, even if it means they go in front of the ICC: http://sudanwatch.blogspot.com/2009/03/darfur-rebels-vow-full-icc-cooperation.html

I have been thinking a lot about Peter Gabriel’s video as I noted on my last blog. Many many people are deeply disappointed by the cancellation of the Mandate Darfur conference. It was a chance for the civil society community in Darfur to truly be a part of their own future and what should be their peace process.

The world is at a few tipping points that we need to stand behind fully: one is the call for a global justice system, that despite it’s growing pains, is working towards a truly fair system that is also a huge deterrent for committing mass atrocities. The second growing movement is one that civil society and the will of the people are more valued and protected than the notion of sovereignty. We have (as Peter Gabriel says), the UN to represent the governments of the world. What is emerging, what is crying out to emerge, is an ecosystem to represent the peoples of the world – how can we all work to nurture this ecosystem and not simply support it but fiercely defend and actively build it?

We fast in solidarity with the people of Darfur

May 16, 2009 By: Pam Category: Pam Omidyar

Pam’s statement

We fast in solidarity with the people of Darfur because they do not have a choice. We fast as a personal expression of outrage at a world that has allowed the suffering of millions of innocent people. We fast because as we simply watched, Darfur’s defenseless people were forced into wretched camps where today they are facing starvation and disease. We fast because those in positions of authority who know what is right and just, could and should do more to alleviate their suffering and bring peace, protection, and justice to the people of Sudan.

We fast for Darfur’s courageous people —because we yearn for a world where human rights are respected and a life of dignity is the legacy for every man, woman and child.

Friday, May 15, Day 29

May 16, 2009 By: Admin Category: Pam Omidyar

Deeply moved by Peter Gabriel’s videos about his fasting. I especially loved the “Ecosystem for Change” video – he is right, we have the tools to create a movement to end suffering on a global scale. Let’s build the momentum of this campaign – to connect those in need with those who have the power to change the situation.

Gabriel, KTJ and the i-Act team go to Chad and speak with the refugees often – please view their videos and see directly what the people of Darfur are saying about their situation and about peace and justice: http://www.stopgenocidenow.org/

I am going on a month of eating meals similar to what the displaced people of Sudan have been eating for over five years – and while I know my mind is cloudy, my metabolism has crashed, and I have lost about 14 pounds, I really do not know what they are going through; for I have a clean and comfortable bed and I can go to sleep every night knowing my husband and children are safe. For the more than 2.7 million displaced Darfuris, they have lost their homes, their livelihoods, and many have lost their families as well.

We fast with the people of Darfur – we will continue to do so to call attention to this vast emergency until the world’s leaders decide to take meaningful action to alleviate suffering and bring real forms of peace and justice to Sudan. I also want it for the tens of millions of other people who have been forced to flee for their lives – to learn more about refugees around the world, please visit UNCHR’s website: http://www.unhcr.org/

We need the movement to get the political will – Let’s build the movement now. We will wait no longer for others to do it, we must do it ourselves.

Wednesday – May 13, 2009

May 14, 2009 By: Admin Category: Pam Omidyar

Wednesday evening:

Feeling exhausted. Today was easily the worst day yet, although our Humanity United board meeting discussions went well in the morning.

Even failed my daily soduku brain challenge (the scientist-geek-in-me way to test brain function on this fast). I hit a peak maybe a week into the fast, whipping through “hard” sodukus in record time. Tonight, I could barely do 20 percent of a medium one without giving up due to mistakes. Tried twice. I am checking in with my doctor tomorow. And in that sense, I am lucky. Seeing a doctor doesn’t require me to walk miles or wait for days like most displaced people must do.

I have been tremendously heartened by Congressman Donald Payne’s commitment to Sudan and his fasting with all of us. I’m grateful to the other fasters, as well, and my thoughts are with Peter Gabriel as he begins tomorrow.

Tomorrow will be day 27 for Shannon and me. We started earlier than others because of our impatience for change. We are still impatient. But there are millions of Darfuris who have been waiting for over 5 years for change. When will the world care enough about their health and safety to help them have it?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

May 10, 2009 By: Admin Category: Pam Omidyar

Today my thoughts and prayers go to all the mothers in Sudan and elsewhere in the world – prayers to end suffering and to ensure all of their children have the opportunity to know love, compassion, joy, and equanimity.

Day 22 – Friday, May 8, 2009

May 08, 2009 By: Admin Category: Pam Omidyar

Today the “Mandate Darfur” conference, a gathering of civil society organizations spearheaded by the Mo Ibrahim foundation, that was to be held next week in Addis Ababa, was canceled. The reason? Interference from the Government of Sudan. This is deeply disappointing and distressing. Civil society must play a significant role in any peace process.

This interference speaks to the lack of respect the Government of Sudan has for its own citizens and suggests that it does not really support meaningful peace. Mo Ibrahim and his foundation, along with others, are committed to supporting a real peace process. We’ve heard that one of their team has been detained as well.

I worry that the Government of Sudan is beginning to feel the pressure, and is doing all they can to close ranks. So we must all cry louder for peace. That’s one reason I’m so deeply touched by Richard Branson’s decision to take over fasting for Mia Farrow. Mia’s selfless commitment, at the serious risk to her own health, is deeply inspiring.

I have decided to continue my own fast despite an upcoming trip to Africa. I want to see more action by those in power. I will be in DC in June for World Refugee Day and will make my case on The Hill in person. I am calling and writing letters now. The silence of our leaders here in the United States is not acceptable. Nor is their inaction. Nor is the silence and inaction of the broader international community. Millions are suffering and it is so very clear the Government in Khartoum has no willingness to find a path towards peace. What will it take for us to give them no choice?

Tuesday and Wednesday, Days 19 and 20

May 06, 2009 By: Admin Category: Pam Omidyar

Fasting with only water yesterday was easier than last week. My body is adjusting to the lack of adequate calories. I am losing weight and definitely moving much slower than the early weeks. Tuesdays are a busy day with carpools and several after-school activities. The time in between was spent on numerous but productive conference calls. By evening, however, I hit a wall. I got kids bathed, teeth brushed, and stories read, and asleep by 8. But then spent the wee hours awake with our littlest one, who is sick. Ever mindful of how blessed we are, I cannot imagine taking care of sick children without clean water, clean towels, adequate clothes and bedding, and medicine as simple as Tylenol.

Who is supposed to look out for children when conflict breaks out? The children of Sudan, Sri Lanka, Gaza, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Columbia, and so many other places grow up under truly traumatizing conditions. Humanity can and must do better. There is a reason 50 percent of all countries experiencing conflict fall back into a state of violence within 10 years. That 8 year-old child who grew up witnessing the horrors of war becomes an adult. Seeing little or no progress in his country’s development, he knows only that guns bring power. One twisted irony of our modern world is that it is those wielding weapons who get a seat at the negotiating table. It is never the women or the pioneers of the civil society sitting at peace talks, even though they are the ones who pick up the pieces of their communities. I can not think of a more convincing sign that the collective conscience of humanity has come loose of its moorings. What will it take for us to find a more enlightened way forward?

Gretchen’s latest post was very moving — well said.

I am thinking of Mia, Shannon, and Gabriel. We talk daily, but we live so far away from each other. I am grateful for their friendship and collective thinking. And for the more than 260 other fasters who are now sharing in our call for the world’s leaders to begin charting a new roadmap for comprehensive, meaningful, and lasting peace in Sudan.

And I liked this ICG piece in All Africa today: http://allafrica.com/stories/200905040268.html

Call (202) 456-1111 and e-mail the White House — and do it often!

Monday – May 4, 2009

May 04, 2009 By: Admin Category: Pam Omidyar

Day 18

The weekend was tougher than I thought. We were away from home and I could not get lentils or brown rice at the hotel. I should have planned ahead. Came home, made dinner for the family along with brown rice in the rice cooker, enough to last for a few days. I am tired and very cranky today. The good news is that Hawaii State Senate passed House Concurrent Resolution 304 today, a resolution condemning the abuse of children and child soldiers in Northern Uganda. I am deeply proud of the students who helped make this happen. I was supporting their efforts, particularly the “RESCUE ME” event last weekend, coordinated by the wonderful organization, Invisible Children. Honolulu was one of 100 cities participating in the “Rescue” events.

We are fasting by choice, in part because more than 1 million people in Darfur and other parts of Sudan do not have access to food, water, and health care. The Sudanese government knowingly expelled the 16 aid organizations that provided these basic services in “response” to the indictment of Omar al-Bashir by the International Criminal Court. Last Friday, the Norwegian Refugee Council reported that Sudan has more displaced people than any other country in the world. During 2008, Sudan had 4.9 million IDPs, about one in eight of all IDPs in the world. More than half of these people are in Darfur. Hundreds of thousands of Sudanese are now at risk of starvation and death. It is a game of quid pro quo played out with human lives — and a game in which the international community has yet to realize it is being played for a fool.

I will repeat a question I have asked many times: What will it take for world leaders to exercise the political will to change the behavior of Khartoum? Engagement is good. I believe in diplomacy, quiet or otherwise. But the United States cannot cave to demands that the Government of Sudan should have agreed to before the aid organizations were expelled. The progress made by Gen. Scott Gration and Sen. John Kerry in restoring some of the humanitarian capacity during their recent trips to Sudan promises to, at best, only return us to the status quo before the expulsions, and at a cost. That is absurd. We can no longer support the status quo of the last five years. Why is the international community — including our own leaders here in America — letting the government in Khartoum dictate the rules? They have shown no ability to provide for their own citizens for almost two decades. Instead, they have displaced more than 6 million people, a figure that puts Sudan in the company of nations such as Columbia and Iraq, nations that dominate our foreign policy agenda and our media headlines.

I will repeat again from an earlier post:

1) The international community must coordinate better and hold the government in Khartoum accountable for its commitments and agreements, including the:

– the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA)
– the various Darfur agreements
– the agreements with the U.N. to facilitate humanitarian access in Darfur
– the Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement.

Perhaps most importantly, the United States must shed the failed policies of the status quo and begin anew in leading a coordinated and comprehensive international effort to build a roadmap for sustainable peace in Sudan. This process must include Sudan’s key economic and political partners, including China, Russia, and Egypt.

The U.N. Security Council, must NOW strengthen the Sudan sanctions committee, truly enforce the arms embargo, and hold accountable those responsible for violating the sanctions regime. We must also hold responsible those indicted by the ICC. That means President al-Bashir.

Friday, May 1, 2009

May 01, 2009 By: Admin Category: Pam Omidyar

Definitely more tired than usual today despite the beautiful weather. Had the chance to speak with a physician from Physician for Human Rights (PHR), who was very helpful in ensuring I fast safely. PHR is truly an amazing organization. Here is one of their Darfur-related websites: Darfuriwomen.org The page’s headline is, “Their voices must be heard.” Yes. Yes. Yes.

Was just scheduling a time with friends for lunch next week. I told them about the fast, basically saying that I’d love to see them but wouldn’t be eating from the menu. One of them replied, saying the plans had changed and she is cooking “refugee rations” for us all. We’ll sit under a tree in a nearby park square. She was motivated by logging onto this website and learning more about how we are trying to encourage the world’s leaders — especially President Barack Obama — to begin crafting a coordinated, comprehensive, sustainable, and long-term peace in Sudan. I am very touched by her effort and kindness.

Thinking a lot of the beautiful people of Sudan, Mia, Gretchen, Shannon, Gabriel, Jen, other fasters and sending them thoughts of strength and peace.

Day 14 – Thursday, April 30

April 30, 2009 By: Pam Category: Pam Omidyar

Have lost 8 pounds, although it fluctuates – my body has definitely gone into hibernation mode. I am continuing the fast – Darfuris want peace but they want justice more. They need food, they want justice more. We hear this over and over. I am on the side of the Darfuris on this one.

Going to surf today with a dear friend – I need to get in the water even if don’t catch too many waves. The ocean is healing.

Day 13 – Wednesday, April 29, 2009

April 30, 2009 By: Pam Category: Pam Omidyar

Was appreciative this morning to be able to eat some rice and have a cup of coffee. Going without food yesterday was hard. My legs were shaky by the end of the day. My thoughts are with Mia, who is finishing day 3 and with Gretchen Steidle-Wallace, who started a full fast with us a few days ago. I’m also thinking of Shannon, who eliminated her refugee rations today in solidarity with Mia and Gretchen and the dozens of others who are fasting in solidarity with Darfuris.

Today I received several e-mails from folks telling me that fasting is not the way to advance change, and that they were worried about me. I replied with as much grace as I could. But I also reiterated the firmness of my convictions in carrying out this fast now and why I am so committed to it. I am under no illusions as to the realities of my life. At the first signs of health problems, I have access to a physicians. I can get someone to be with the kids while I rest. And I can simply eat something out of my pantry if it comes to that. Millions of people do not have this safety net. Hundreds of millions are hungry every day with inadequate nutrition and access to healthcare.

I have heard Gabriel and KTJ tell stories of their recent visits to Chad, where children they met in camps were smaller and thinner than the year before. My own children are taller, and weigh at least as much, than a year ago. We must value the health and safety of every child on the planet, not simply our own. As I think about this, I wonder what would it take to reach the tipping point for action on Darfur? How many men, women, and children must die? What horrific act would force the Obama Administration, the United Nations Security Council, and other global leaders to stop the murderous actions of the few who hold power in Sudan? At what point will the international community come to understand the falseness of using sovereignty as an excuse for abuse and murder of innocent civilians? What would it take in Sudan — and other countries that so badly need justice, including Burma (Myanmar), Sri Lanka, the DRC, and others?

While I fast, I am also trying to push for action towards real peace and justice in Sudan. What do the words real peace and justice mean? In short, the international community must hold the government in Khartoum accountable for its commitments and agreements, including the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the various Darfur agreements (including past agreements with the U.N. to facilitate humanitarian access in Darfur), and the Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement. The latest agreement on restoring humanitarian access in Darfur needs to be more broadly understood, monitored closely, and respected in its entirety in order to avoid the humanitarian catastrophe we all fear is immanent.

Perhaps most importantly, the United States must shed the failed policies of the status quo and begin anew in leading a coordinated and comprehensive international effort to build a roadmap for sustainable peace in Sudan. This process must include Sudan’s key economic and political partners, including China, Russia, and Egypt. The U.N. Security Council, meanwhile, must strengthen the Sudan sanctions committee, focus on better enforcement of the arms embargo, and begin to hold accountable those responsible for violating the sanctions regime. Until the international community shows better coordination on Sudan policy, progress is unlikely to be made.

Tuesday, April 28

April 28, 2009 By: Admin Category: Pam Omidyar

Today I am going to fast without food like Mia. Filling my re-usable water bottle and getting the kids ready for school.

Monday, April 27

April 28, 2009 By: Admin Category: Pam Omidyar

Day 11

Today was the official launch of the Fast for Darfur. It is heartening to see so many people sign up in solidarity.

But I am disheartened to see some of the comments in reaction to Mia’s statement on the Larry King Live blog. Mia is not out for attention, and she truly understands the complexities of the crisis in Sudan, including traveling to the refugee and IDP camps at least 11 times. She works tirelessly on behalf of UNICEF and is one of the most selfless people I know.

Fasting has many ends. Some are personal and private. Others are public. Because of her high profile, Mia can garner large amounts of media attention and raise awareness of the humanitarian crisis in Darfur through her fast. And perhaps this can do some good.

Please look at the “About” page on this website to see what Cesar Chavez says about fasting. Our fasting, in whatever form, will not change the behavior of the Government of Sudan. But perhaps it will grab the hearts and minds of people — people who collectively can encourage the government here in the United States to exercise the political will to push the international community to begin anew in crafting a coordinated and comprehensive roadmap for peace in Sudan. To date, the status quo has failed to stop the bloodshed in Darfur. Yes, we should continue to work all other avenues. But why not try this fast as well?

Sunday, April 26

April 26, 2009 By: Pam Category: Pam Omidyar

Day 10

Having warm tea. Thinking of Mia and all the fasters who will voluntarily start tomorrow and of the millions of displaced Sudanese for whom fasting is not a matter of choice, but something forced upon them by the government in Khartoum.

Convinced there can not be lasting peace, true healing over time, without fair forms of justice.

Saturday, April 25

April 25, 2009 By: Pam Category: Pam Omidyar

Day 9

Today is the Invisible Children “Rescue Me” event. I love to see students passionate about global human rights issues, especially when it concerns youth like them.

I am trying not to eat. Had some coffee with some rice this morning. Kids helped me make and decorate an angel food cake for a friend. I didn’t even lick the spoon like I usually do. Made the kids pancakes for breakfast.

p4250064-medStaying hydrated is tough. My head has a continual odd buzz—sort of lightheaded, not really dizzy, but just hums. I am definitely off kilter.

Spent all afternoon and evening at the Invisible Children RESCUE ME event and shared my Tupperware of rice and lentils with a friend. It was inspiring to see so many dedicated young people. We had fun, although it was cold and windy and we huddled under sleeping bags waiting for government officials to come “rescue” us. And they did. A rare promise kept by politicians. It was heartening. We need to care about the health and well-being of all children on the planet. Child soldiers are something that should never exist. How are they even conceivable? And, yet, thousands of children suffer in the most hellish of abuses every day.

Friday, April 24

April 24, 2009 By: Pam Category: Pam Omidyar

Day 8

This is why I am fasting, on refugee rations, for Darfur:
(From Mia Farrow’s website. Used with her permission.)



These are some of the children of Darfur. They were being treated by Medicins San Frontieres (MSF) until then the Government of Sudan expelled it and other aid organizations. Also, please see http://www.stopgenocidenow.org/. As Gabriel, KTJ, and others on the team have done so much to visit with Darfuri refugees and bring their stories to the rest of the world.

Please tell me why the lives of these children are less deserving of proper nutrition, peace, nurturing, and unlimited opportunity than those of other children around the world?

At what point did we become so numb to the now ubiquitous refrain attached to every media story on Darfur?

“The UN says 300, 000 people have died – many from disease and hunger – and 2.7 million have been made homeless by the Darfur conflict which erupted in 2003. Khartoum puts the death toll at 10 000.”

Granted, this is a newer version from one that was floating around in previous years. It changed in late 2008, when the UN did revisit the numbers. But how do we see this line and not demand the world do something? This applies to other horrific emergencies as well: Somalia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sri Lanka, Columbia, Iraq. There are others. How do we prioritize whose lives are worth saving? Why if people die due to natural disasters does the world respond with overwhelming force? Yet, as death comes to millions at the hands of other men we helplessly do nothing. I can’t stop a hurricane or a tsunami or a flood. But I would hope that as a person, I can ask my fellow citizens to stop mass killing and violence.

As President Obama said in his Inauguration speech,

“To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West — know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy.”

I think of this line often in my work. Why do world leaders get away with inaction, even as their citizens cry for something to be done? In the case of Sudan, Bashir came to power in a coup almost 20 years ago. Since then, has he improved the standard of living for the people of Sudan? Why do we not listen more to citizens and civil society during times of crisis? Yes, the war between the North and the South is over, but there has been little implementation of the CPA agreement, a form of restorative justice. And there has been no accountability for the millions who died in South Sudan, nor for the more than 4 million displaced for so long.

Why do only those holding guns get a place at the peace table? How do we bring all forms of peace and all forms of justice to all of Sudan?

Thursday, April 23

April 23, 2009 By: Pam Category: Pam Omidyar

Day 7 – Woke up at 4:30 AM, in part because our littlest one had a bad dream. Kids crying puts a shot of adrenaline into my body. He is sleeping, I am wide awake.

5:00 am – Decided to make some hot tea and finished the first morning flurry of emails.

Thinking about justice and the paths to peace. Am struck that President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia has spent her life working towards progress in that country and she has never picked up a gun. That is not even true of Mandela. I guess it is possible to achieve peace through peace.

Will wait to eat later in an hour or so. It is going to be a long day.

2 pm – got light headed this morning when kneeling down to talk to preschoolers this morning. So drank a lot of water and herbal tea this morning. Feeling better – amazing how food, even a little, balances and calms us.

Oh, weighed myself this morning – down 5 pounds from the start – to 137.

Monday, April 20

April 20, 2009 By: Pam Category: Pam Omidyar

The usual. I am using both yellow split peas and lentils as protein sources. To be honest, I use them often in my cooking anyway, but usually with fresh tomatoes, other vegetables, or lots of spices. People forced into camps don’t have that luxury. This morning I’m thinking about a question: At what point does the rest of the world accept 30 to 35 million forcibly displaced people as business as usual? We go on with our lives while so many have no home, no livelihoods.

Rice. Just re-heated leftover rice in microwave. I am feeling tired, too tired to put yellow-spilt peas in a pot.

Sunday, April 19

April 19, 2009 By: Pam Category: Pam Omidyar

Spoke with Shannon. She has lost two pounds. I haven’t weighed myself yet. Having coffee instead. Waiting on breakfast as long as I can because I have to go out with the kids and be social and I want a bit of food in me so I can resist the temptations that will be around. I smell and see food everywhere—on every corner, in the Starbucks, at McDonalds, 7-11, and in the supermarket.

It was a nice day. I went over to a friend’s and she made me rice, lentils, and some rooibos tea. We shared the meal together and it reminded me how grateful I am for caring friends.

Saturday, April 18

April 18, 2009 By: Pam Category: Pam Omidyar

I had a cup of coffee. I decided early on, as important as this fast is to show solidarity with Darfuris, I need caffeine. I feel guilty, but then again, to say my life is a comfortable one is an understatement. OK, I am not going to Starbucks, just making coffee at home (no sugar or milk).

This morning I’m thinking about how important this fast is. Its goal is to push the world’s leaders—however possible—to exercise the political will to bring meaningful peace to Darfur and prevent further war in all of Sudan. And justice is important for peace. Will this fast bring the guilty to justice? Probably not. But hopefully it, and the media it generates, will tell the world that to allow the suffering of millions is NOT acceptable. Not anywhere. One hundred million people in the world are at risk for severe malnutrition today. Darfuris represent 1 percent of that number. Surely we can all do our part to take better care of each other.

If we can help bring peace and justice to Sudan, which has a far more functional government than, say, Somalia or the Democratic Republic of Congo, it will help stabilize the entire region. If the government of Sudan can build a $2 billion dollar dam with the help of China, they can certainly also do more to bring reparations, peace, and development to other parts of the country. Peace is always cheaper than war. Development helps prevent rebel attacks. “Rebels,” after all, are simply people who are marginalized and whose basic needs have also been ignored for far too long. Their only option is to pick up a gun, and they do so in no small part because they see that strategy being employed elsewhere. Sadly, they do not seem to understand that real, sustained progress can only come in the form of peace. Just ask Gandhi, or King, or Cesar Chavez. It was peace, not guns, that empowered the great revolutionaries of the last century.

5:30 pm
p4180052-medI had some of the leftover rice and yellow split peas for lunch, and took a photo. Cooking dinner now for the kids. Making a lot of brown rice in a rice cooker and a Persian dish with red kidney beans and greens. Since we are already vegetarian, I didn’t add the lamb or beef that typically goes into the dish. (I learned to make traditional Persian food from my mother-in-law, and it is wonderful.)

I will have the brown rice and some lentils. Even with this limited diet, it is more than most displaced people in Darfur have in the IDP camps.

Friday, April 17

April 17, 2009 By: Pam Category: Pam Omidyar

Friday morning, 6 AM

Today I am starting my refugee rations fast. Little time to reflect as I need to get the kids ready for school. Our eldest’s alarm clock went off at 5:30 AM, which in turn woke up our 3 year-old. I have no idea why the alarm was set so early, but she was already downstairs playing Wii before sunrise. Needless to say, sleep is more on my mind than food this morning—that and the fact that my kids should not be playing video games before school.

If you care, I weigh 142 lbs and am 5’9”

Will this fast work? I don’t know. Why am I doing it? The truth is that I do not know what else to try. I have participated in activist events, met with members of Congress, pleaded with world leaders, supported the efforts of The Elder’s to work toward peace, founded and guided an entire private foundation called Humanity United, which is dedicated to ending mass atrocities, including those in Sudan, and I have funded numerous other efforts, either via Humanity United or just by writing checks on my own.

Lots of people care about Darfur. But for some reason this passion has failed to bring about the political, economic, and social solutions that are needed to secure a lasting peace in Sudan. This has gone on for far, far too long. We too often forget that the pattern of conflict in Darfur is one that existed for decades between North and South Sudan. How do we bring lasting peace to Sudan and, in turn, the surrounding region? Perhaps this fast will help focus my own mind more clearly on that question.

1 PM
I went surfing and drank a full bottle of water—two things refugees don’t get to do. As we do this fast, physician friends told me to drink lots of water. Refugees’ No. 1 ask is for more clean water. With the expulsion of the aid organizations from Sudan, the lack of water is being used as a tool of war to kill Darfuris. The government in Khartoum has knowingly done this. Oxfam, which has been expelled, provided the major water infrastructure for the region.

Cooked rice and yellow split-peas in water are in a pot on the stove. I added no oil to the recipe, but did add some dried herbs. Made enough for future meals. I know refugees get cracked wheat. I am going to eat rice (I have a wheat allergy), yet another luxury of choice we have when we are not dependent upon others.

Made some herbal tea this afternoon. Tonight I’m going out to dinner with friends, to a new Himalayan restaurant. I know they will have dahl and rice. I will avoid the bread and the vegetables.

8 PM
Had a nice dinner with friends. Ate only water, rice, and dahl, and some padaman bread (very thin crispy bread made with lentils and flour), but admittedly probably ate more than a refugee gets in a meal.