Editor’s Note: Frank Wolf (R–VA) is currently serving his 16th term in Congress. He has been a long-time supporter of international human rights, and has traveled to Ethiopia, Sudan, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda to witness firsthand the suffering of people in these nations, and to bring attention to the various crises. Congressman Wolf was also instrumental in leading the first congressional delegation to Darfur.
I have long been interested in Sudan—having traveled there five times since 1989. My most recent visit to Darfur was in July 2004 when I led the first congressional delegation with Senator Sam Brownback. I witnessed the unfolding nightmare with my own eyes. I spoke to women who had been raped and brutalized by the Janjaweed. I saw burned out villages, decimated by war. I visited with families living in makeshift camps. The misery that we saw demanded action—the status quo was simply unacceptable.
Defending human rights, thereby giving a voice to the voiceless, has long been a priority during my service in Congress. I believe that in order for America to truly be the ‘shining city on a hill’ envisioned by our founders, we must continually affirm that we stand for the defenseless, champion liberty, and confront injustice the world over. Further, my faith teaches that to whom much is given, much is required. America has faced its share of difficulties, but as a nation, we have been richly blessed. This reality leads me to seek to draw attention and prompt action to confront human rights abuses in places like Darfur.
In my experience, members of Congress get involved in these types of issues for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they have a large diaspora community in their district from a particular country that takes an active interest in events of their home country. Sometimes they’ve traveled to these regions and personally witnessed something that stirred them to action. My own travels to places like Sudan, Sierra Leone, and Ethiopia have served to inspire policy recommendations and other congressional action upon my return.
With advances in mass communication, I have seen a dramatic uptick in the amount of constituent mail, specifically e-mail, in my nearly thirty years in Congress. E-mail makes it easier for constituents to share their views with me. But often times we receive huge numbers of form letters, with identical text, simply cut and pasted into an e- mail. This is obviously one way for constituents to share their opinions, but when someone has taken the time to write a personalized letter in his or her own words detailing their thoughts about any given issue, that certainly stands out.
This profile and many others were compiled for The Enough Moment, a book by John Prendergast and Don Cheadle about engaged citizens – known and unknown, in the U.S. and abroad – who are mobilizing to help end genocide, rape, and the use of child soldiers in Africa. Visit the Enough Moment Wall to hear people describe their “Enough moment” and to upload a video, photo, or written testimonial of your own.
Check out Congressman Wolf's guest blog on Enough Said in June about the unfolding crisis in Sudan.
Photo: Congressman Frank Wolf speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill (Associated Press)