- Tell me about yourself
Taj Harun, From Darfur, living in Israel since 2008, one of the community leaders who established Bnai Darfur. Currently works on the executive committee on programming. Plans and brings all the projects to the community
- Mind set about the organization
Bnai Darfur is one of the first organization established for and by the community. Aim is for the community. Direction has been more towards appreciation of the little things we get here in Israel. More protection, a lot of horrible things out there. Diifferent from other organizations, not criticizing but appreciating what they have in their community. Appreciate their safety. Which is a huge step.
Think about long term goals, not just within Israel. But want to be able to participate in the situation in Darfur and be able to help people in neighboring countried like Chad. Difficult so not its here in Israel focusing on helping our community with shelter, education, community centers.
- What are your main priorities
Community, future leadership of community, community programming, establishing connections within the state of Israel and the community
- How do you think Bnai Darfur can reach the community?
Works within the community, because those who work on a committee are activists within the community center. We have 5 or 6 community centers that focus on social and culturally. Huge impact on different organizations. And different communities of refugees.
- How do you think that this organization will work to benefit the Darfurian community in Israel
Bnai Darfur has been in the community since 2007 and has been the same, they have had classes, skills, computer skills classes, kindergarten, family needs, events. Provides a sense of community for these refugees. Projects and programs and committees provides a very good chance to continue to build the community
- How do you think that the organization will work together with other Darfurian/ Sudanese organizations with the same values?
Here in Israel Bnai Darfur came up with the idea of working under one umbrella to bring all the objectives of all the organizations and working under one organization. One year term programs to be implemented and is then divided to different organizations to implement. Still under discussions. We basically agree to work together and form committees and we are working on a professional plan for the year. It was originally 4 different organizations. Some our focused on culture issues while others are focused on childrens programs and womens education and empowerment. All provide language and basic programs for the community. Bnai Darfur also is heading more leadership programs.
- How will bnei Darfur reach displaced people inside the camps in Darfur and how can they work with other refugees in neighboring countries of Darfur (Chad, South Sudan)
Have discussed these issues and the main problem is that they cannot move. They have tried to have courses such as first aid and some sort of mobilized clinic, clothes and medicine drives to try to ship it into those in the camps in Darfur and Chad who need it most. Not able to move because of the asylum status. Very difficult to come up with solutions to implement ideas. English and Hebrew courses are very important. Community having ideas and skills will hopefully be able to recommend something. Knowledge is kinda like everything. Small things.
- How do you best to present and advocate for the problems in Darfur? (theater, speeches, music) How do you personally present the current issues in Darfur to the rest of the world and the public in Israel ?
We do a lot of testimonies and personal stories to groups and corporations. Also do media advocacy through newspaper Articles . Theres not much but we can at least let people know who we are and what we do. We try to explain our situation and show them what our family is going through and that were not really ok but its better than before.
There are better ways to advocate especially if we were allowed status, especially if we can organize ourselves better. We are doing our best here but we are not allowed in many places. We cannot move and if we had status we could connect with the jewish communities in the Diaspora to show appreciation and gather support. Eventually we would like to go home and we cannot do it alone so we need support from the communities.
- What have you learned that others might not know about the issue and circumstances in Darfur
What I have learned is that especially since I have done testamonies and personal stories is that many people do not know about it, maybe they once heard about it on the news but there is no deep understanding of why the genocide is happening. We need to make people better understand it.
The diaspora Jewish community has a huge impact. This would be really very good to get some international community.
- What kinds of goals do you think that the organization can work towards?
First, the goals of the organization should include the Darfurian community here, back home and in neighboring countries. Focusing on them, they will be able to get tools to show their problems and get support as well.
Why we are here and what we can do.
- How has the organization contributed to your success
I have been involved in activities in the beginning. Gave me the chance to closely connect to Israeli society and speak with them. Went to a lot of schools and universities and tours. Most of the people were very friendly. Personally, through Bnai Darfur I managed to get scholarships and go to school and get a BA and I am planning to attend Kings College in London to get a masters.
- Did you ever have any doubts
In some cases yes, not the organization itself but with the goals and objectives of some people, its a lot of pressure from the community. The situation can change and then your specific goals need to change. I never doubted working for the community and being an activist. Sometimes it was hard with some long meetings discussing goals and priorities. It can be difficult with the lack of status and there were moments when you see such a big community with no where to go and sometimes no budget. Its sometimes hard seeing people and not being able to do much. In the end it all works out.