Friday, April 25, 2008

Fast approaching the finish line

It's 8:40 p.m. on the last day of my fast. My tummy is actually saying very little to me right now. It seems to have adapted.
Doing the fast has been a good experience for me. I hope that everyone participating in this fast has found it to be a positive experience. Although the cause that motivated me to fast centers on Latin America, I did spend much time thinking about and reading about other parts of the world that are in conflict and where people are victims of human rights violations. These include situations that, most likely, had very little to do with U.S. military training of foreign troops.
I do not believe that the United States is responsible for every bad situation in the world. It is not that powerful, after all.
My sister lent me a book to read, called A Long Way Gone:Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, by Ishmael Beah. He was a child soldier in Sierra Leone during the civil war. He tells his shocking story in a very matter of fact way. That makes the story seem even more shocking and even more horrifying.
In the course of reading the story, I found out that I had met the American woman who eventually adopted Ishmael Beah. Her name is Laura Simms, and she is a professional story teller. I met her a few years ago at a story telling retreat, called "Keeper of the the Flame," at the Chautauqua Institution. She and I bonded and, although it has been a few years since I've seen her, I feel that we would connect instantly when we next meet. I said "when" and not "if" because I have no doubt that we will meet again at some point.
Sierra Leone went through a terrible civil war that lasted eleven years. For someone who was a child at the time, it must have seemed as if the war would never end. But, fortunately, the war did come to an end and a truth and reconciliation commission was established to find out what exactly went wrong and to try to make sure that this horrible history would never be repeated. You can find out more at
I also think about the story told by Dominic Ding at the Lenten Luncheon last month here in Grand Island. Dominic Ding is a young man from the southern part of Sudan. He and his brothers ran away from their home in 1986. They were running for their lives. Just a year later, the Sudanese government ordered all boys in southern Sudan to be killed. So many boys fled. These boys were called the "lost boys of Sudan." They walked for many miles and, along the way, quite a few of them died. Dominic Ding was one of the survivors who found their way to a refugee camp in Kenya. A number of the lost boys, including Dominic and one of his brothers, came to the United States in 2001.
Some of the Lost Boys traveled to the United States on September 11. When they saw the news of the terrorist attacks, they were horrified and thought that they had brought their war with them to the United States. The Lost Boys who came to the United States have been very focused on their education, and many of them have graduated from college. Dominic Ding is now a graduate student. He wants to be a teacher and he has teaching experience. He did some teaching at the refugee camp in Kenya and he works with refugee children in Buffalo, New York, helping them get adjusted to a different culture. His photograph is above.
Dominic Ding and Ishmael Beah are two amazing young men who have endured things as children that are beyond the comprehension of most of us.
I have the deepest admiration for them.
So... it's getting late and soon, my fast will be just a memory.
This will be my last "fast report."
I'm headed to Washington, D.C., on Friday, and will update this blog after I return from that adventure.
Ciao for now.

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