This is a cross post of an article I wrote for the Huffington Post. You can find the original here.
Today I begin my fast for Darfur. The Fast for Darfur began with Mia Farrow’s 12 day hunger strike protesting the president of Sudan’s decision to throw out of his country the NGO’s who were the main suppliers of food to the Darfurian refugees. Mia ended her fast on doctor’s orders and Sir Richard Branson decided to take the baton and fast for three days. Since then, hundreds of people have joined the fast to stand in solidarity with the people of Darfur. My friend Blake Mycoskie passed the baton to me, so here I am. Fasting.
I have done fasts in the past — (mainly to shrink my ass or enlarge my spirit!) but have never done one in solidarity and protest. Never drank only water for three days without some kind of selfish motivation to see me through. Now, here I am outside of Boston, Mass. doing one of the funniest movies I have ever been in and I am choosing to start this fast today.
I have been so happy lately, which is somewhat rare for me. Laughs a minute with Adam Sandler and Kevin James and the crew. I live at the beach and have the day off today to just kick around. I should be eating lobster at Lobsta Land. But NOOOOO, instead I am trying to mix things up by drinking very hot, warm, lukewarm or cold water throughout the day, hoping that my body functions that are usually awakened with caffeine will be woken up. And why?
Because people are dying.
Hundreds of thousands of men, women and children in Darfur have been systematically murdered in Omar al-Bashir’s campaign of genocide and millions have been left homeless. Now, after years of continuing suffering, these courageous people have to face starvation on top of murder, mutilation, displacement and rape.
So I am fasting in solidarity with my friend, Niemat Ahmadi whose family and friends are hungry and displaced in the camps in Darfur. I am fasting for the 40 young girls (as young as 4) who were brutally raped by the Janjaweed militia as reported in Halima Bashir’s incredible book, Tears of the Desert: A Memoir of Survival in Darfur. I am fasting because I am a mother and a human being, and because I know that if I am not apart of the solution I am apart of the problem.
After 18 hours of not eating, I am now staring at the bag of sourdough pretzels on my kitchen counter. I am salivating. I am “starving.” (Like I will ever really know what starving is really like.)
I don’t know how much this fast will accomplish. Maybe a person or two will feel moved to go to the website and find out what they can do to help to stop the genocide and with enough of our voices we can finally put an end to it. Or maybe it will simply wake me up out of the haze of being a working mother, who is constantly worried about being able to support her son in this economy and if the new lines on my lips mean my career is over.
Either way, today the people of Dafur stand clearly and strongly in my mind and I just want them to know they are not alone.
To learn more about the fast and what you can do for the people of Darfur, go to fastdarfur.org.