Last night, the Enough Project hosted an inspiring event at the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC. John Prendergast moderated a panel discussion, featuring Franco Majok, a former “lost boy” from Sudan’s devastating North-South civil war, Craig Walzer, editor of Out of Exile: The Abducted and Displaced People of Sudan, and Dave Eggers, the acclaimed author and co-creator of the impressive Voice of Witness project, which aims to shed light on “human rights crises through oral history.”
Out of Exile is the fourth installment in the Voice of Witness series. The book empowers displaced people and refugees, a group that too often remains voiceless and stereotyped. By telling the stories of a few of the millions of southern Sudanese refugees in their own words, and taking the time to get to know these people instead of portraying them as sad faces in a CNN video clip, editor Craig Walzer succeeded in bring these refugees’ often harrowing stories to light in a realistic, nuanced way.
A common theme throughout the discussion was the power of education to rebuild societies that have been devastated by years, even decades, of violence. Franco Majok said that when he returned to his village after the Sudanese civil war, he realized that the people who couldn’t escape and died in the war were those who didn’t have an education. Majok said that education was the key to developing southern Sudan, and that he knew that his fellow countrymen and women were devoted to this ideal. Dave Eggers echoed this sentiment, saying that he was inspired by the initiative of individuals he met in southern Sudan and of former “lost boys” like Valentino Achak Deng — the subject of Eggers’ What is the What — who were returning to their country to participate in the development of their home.