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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Sudan: Bringing people together

Gentle conversations emerge as women weave palm leaves into mats at a community center in Dereig, a camp outside Nyala, Sudan. The camp is now home for more than 20,000 people among the 2.5 million who have been displaced from their homes by violence in Darfur.

Women can sell the mats to buy salt, soap, sugar and other essentials. The center also offers opportunities for people to sew, create tablecloths or make pasta.

Yet “the most positive thing about the center is that it brings people together,” said Amina (no last name given), a mother of four who volunteers at the center. “People can talk to each other and forget their suffering ... some have been attacked; some have seen their villages burned and lost loved ones. For a person that has been suffering, talking is a kind of healing.”

The center is run by Elizabeth Cornelio, a trauma counselor who walks around the camp inviting survivors to take part in activities. “If I find a woman alone, lying down, crying, I tell her not to stay alone,” she said. “When you are alone, it is very difficult ... most of the women have trauma, and yet they do not know how to recognize it in others or even in their children.”


Keeping Darfur in mind
Members of Luther Place Lutheran Church, Washington, D.C., and students from the Lutheran Seminary at Gettysburg, Pa., attend a Sept. 9 rally in Washington, D.C., for U.N. intervention and an end to the violence in Darfur, Sudan.


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