The student-led Converse chapter of STAND, an anti-genocide coalition, will host a fundraising dinner on Friday, May 9 to support the Genocide Intervention Network (GI-net), an international organization dedicated to protecting civilians displaced and endangered in conflict zones around the world, and specifically in Darfur.
Spartanburg Mayor Bill Barnet will be the featured speaker for the evening.
The Dinner for Darfur will take place in the Montgomery Student Center at 6:30 pm. Tickets are $50 with 100% of profits earmarked for protecting women and children in Darfur refugee camps.
Orner said that Dinner for Darfur will feature a wide range of expressions from Converse students. “Student volunteers will present original music, dance, art and drama created specifically for this event. (These students) want to use their talents to make an impact, and together we will show individuals that they have the power to help people in Darfur.”
Reserved tickets need to be purchased by April 25. For information on ticket availability and support opportunities visit www.conversedinnerfordarfur.googlepages.com or call 864-596-9371.
“Women in Darfur are subject to attack, molestation and murder when they leave the refugee camps to gather wood for cooking and heating,” states Kelly Orner, a Converse senior from Wahiawa, Hawaii and chairperson of STAND’s Dinner for Darfur. “A militia group called the Janjaweed (translated ‘the devil on horseback’) is paid by the government to carry out these atrocities—for land oil, and the racial cleansing of Darfur.”
The Washington Post has called the government sponsored genocide in Darfur “the first genocide of the 21st century.” In September 2007, a group of Converse students attended a Washington DC conference on the Sudanese conflict as national leaders of STAND and experts on the situation promoted a permanent anti-genocide constituency. Madison Webb and Lisa Godenick, both freshmen from Spartanburg, South Carolina , returned with the vision of initiating a STAND chapter at Converse.
Webb and Godenick, now chapter presidents, and Orner are passionate about the part that their personal efforts, as well as those of the fledgling organization, have taken in promoting an end to genocide. They are dedicated to raising awareness on campus—and in the Spartanburg area—of the atrocities and slaughter going on in Darfur. “Concern is growing on campus,” Orner states. “We have seen our organization grow phenomenally since its inception in September.”
STAND of Converse is one of more than seven hundred chapters world wide. Internationally, STAND is a student driven organization with three primary goals.
- Educate students about past and present genocides
“One of the first things that empowered me in this effort," Orner says, “was looking back at the genocide of Rwanda, and learning that since then plans and methods have been established . Now we just have to get people together to implement those methods.”
- Political activism
“Our goal is to establish relations with elected officials,” Webb states. “We want them to know we’re grateful for their past work on the situation and encourage new initiatives.” Webb, Godenick and other members of the Converse STAND chapter were able to lobby South Carolina senators DeMint and Graham in Washington for the Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act (SADA) that was passed in Dec