Schaeffer-Duffy plans trip for firsthand look at Sudan

TELEGRAM & GAZETTE (Massachusetts)
October 19, 2004 Tuesday, FINAL EDITION

Schaeffer-Duffy plans trip for firsthand look at Sudan



Scott Schaeffer-Duffy of the Sts. Francis and Therese Catholic Worker
House will join three other peace activists in late November and
early December for a fact-finding and aid trip to Darfur, Sudan.

Money for the trip, and to buy supplies for the people in the region,
has been donated by actor Martin Sheen, who plays President Bartlett
on the television program “The West Wing.”

Mr. Sheen, a Catholic and longtime peace and social justice activist,
has had a long association with the local Catholic Worker House, now
located at 52 Mason St., and has given donations in the past.

Mr. Schaeffer-Duffy said Mr. Sheen helped the group financially when
its first house burned down about 18 years ago, and that he has
provided funds for some other peace trips.

The peace activists plan a peace Mass on Nov. 29, the evening before
their departure, at St. Paul’s Cathedral. They will leave Nov. 30
from Boston and expect to be in Sudan at least until Dec. 9.

The other members of the group are Brenda Cussen of South Bend, Ind.,
who, like Mr. Schaeffer-Duffy, is a graduate of the College of the
Holy Cross, and who is associated with the St. Peter Claver Catholic
Worker in South Bend; Christopher Doucot of the St. Martin de Porres
Catholic Worker in Hartford, also a graduate of Holy Cross; and Grace
Ritter of Ithaca, N.Y., a member of the Ithaca Catholic Worker.

Mr. Sheen’s secretary called first to see how much money was needed
to get the group to Sudan, Mr. Schaeffer-Duffy said. He said air fare
and immunizations would be about $6,000. Mr. Sheen then called back
personally and said he thought he should send $10,000, Mr.
Schaeffer-Duffy said. The extra money will allow the group to buy
some supplies to bring to people. It has not been decided whether
they need food, medicine or both, he said.

According to a BBC report, 50,000 people have died and 1.4 million
have been made homeless by fighting in that region during the past 18
months, Mr. Schaeffer-Duffy said. The Sudan government has said about
7,000 have died.

“We want to do some fact-finding to find out exactly what has
happened,” Mr. Schaeffer-Duffy said. He said some of the recent
reports coming out of Sudan indicate that women who leave their
village to collect firewood “are routinely raped.”

Pro-government Arab militias have been attacked by African rebels in
Darfur, which is in Western Sudan. U.S. Secretary of State Colin L.
Powell has referred to these attacks as genocide.

Mr. Schaeffer-Duffy said the United States has a long history of
avoiding acting on genocide, going back to the Armenian Genocide in
the early 1900s. “The government does nothing until it is over and
then does something. But by then the people are dead,” he said.

The peace activists have also been told that the rebel militias in
Sudan are not attacking villages where there are “internationals,” he
said. They hope that by going into these villages they can help
stabilize the situation so people will move back and try to get their
lives going more normally.

The people going on this trip are veteran peace activists who have
gone on similar trips to other parts of the world. Mr.
Schaeffer-Duffy has taken part in or led peace campaigns in
Nicaragua, Bosnia, India and Iraq. Mr. Doucot has been involved in
more than 10 peace missions, including trips to Bosnia and Iraq. Ms.
Ritter has been active in the campaign to close the United States
Army School of the Americas, and recently spent a month volunteering
in a refugee camp in Bethlehem.

None of the activists has been to Africa and are “cramming” to learn
the history and geography of the area, Mr. Schaeffer-Duffy said.

The Catholic Workers, a movement started in the 1930s by the late
Dorothy Day and Pierre Maurin, live among poor people and work on
peace and justice issues in this country and around the world.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

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