Redondo Beach, California
Listening to an NPR special report on the tenth anniversary of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, Gabriel and his daughter Noemi decided they would not be bystanders to the horrors like this in the future. It was not long before Gabriel learned about the situation in Darfur. He began emailing friends and family and set out to build a community who would work to end genocide. Soon after, he co-founded Stop Genocide Now (SGN), a grassroots community dedicated to working to protect populations in grave danger of violence, death, and displacement resulting from genocide. Through active education, advocacy, and policy change, SGN resolves to change the way the world responds to genocide.
Through his work with SGN Gabriel has made numerous trips to the Darfur refugee camps in Chad and has traveled across the US to schools, universities, and communities sharing the refugees’ stories and raising awareness about the genocide. One experience in particular has stayed with him:
Of the hours, days, weeks, and months I have spent with Darfuri refugees over the past four years, there is a simple moment that somehow gave me clarity and grounding for my actions when back in the US. I was walking with a group of children, including a young girl named Leila. It was a hot Sahara day, and the sand on the ground was burning. Little Leila did not have any shoes. I picked her up and carried her, as she hugged me closely and looked at me smiling. I would do exactly that same thing for my daughter. I keep going back to that moment and can feel Leila’s light weight on my arms. I have to keep working here, as if Leila were my daughter and her family were my family and their people were my people. I hope our leaders can do the same. I keep working hard, so that they feel Leila as one of them. She is.
Gabriel knows how important it is to put a human face on this ongoing crisis, a major reason why SGN developed a project called i-ACT (interactive-activism) that enables individuals to connect with Darfuris in refugee camps via webcasts. Through i-ACT visitors to the website can access daily field-reports, get visuals of conditions in the refugee camps, make comments, ask questions, and post suggestions on the website’s interactive blog feature.
To learn more, visit www.stopgenocidenow.org (external link).