September 20, 2006

Drums For Darfur

There were more instruments than musicians to play them. But that didn't squash music therapist Michael Guglielmo's enthusiasm, as he exhorted kids to let the love in their hearts "fly out like a bird and travel to Africa."

Guglielmo hosted "Shine the Light For Darfur," a children's sunset music circle for peace at Main Beach on Sunday evening. Setting up a huge drum, he played, drawing kids like the pied piper of fairy tales. Four teens from Pierson High School, at the beach for a picnic, joined in, encouraged to let the rhythm ring out. With Sam Guest keeping time on the largest drum, Lily Streeter and Dena Silver provided additional percussion accompaniment while Bobby Bori manned the xylophone. "It's a good thing he's doing, I think," Bori said.

Another five children ran down the beach toward the music. "Grab a stick," Guglielmo suggested, directing the youngsters to tote bags filled with instruments. The teens returned to their blanket and picnic as the little ones tried their hand at the instruments.

The children's music circle may have been one of the more humble events as groups across the nation and the world participated in a "Global Day for Darfur." It's estimated that some 400,000 residents of the western region of the Sudan have been killed since conflict erupted about three years ago. Another 2.5 million are homeless and living in displaced persons camps.

Participants in rallies gathered to speak out against the genocide and in support of dispatching UN peacekeepers to the region. Earlier this month the Security Council passed a resolution calling for UN troops to replace African Union troops, but the force wouldn't be deployed until Sudanese government officials allow its entry. Demonstrators in this weekend's rallies voiced support for sending troops with or without support from the Sudanese government.

Since early 2003 Sudanese armed forces along with a government-backed militia have been fighting with rebel groups in Darfur. The ethnic African rebels have demanded political parity in an Arab-dominated central government. The Sudanese government is accused of embarking on an ethnic cleansing and genocide in reaction to the demands. Despite the United Nations vote, as well as UN brokered peace agreements, the government has dispatched thousands of troops to Darfur and there is fear of a final solution, and the slaughter of over two million refugees now living in camps run by international humanitarian groups.

The Jewish Center of the Hamptons in East Hampton organized car pools to a rally held in Central Park. There, former Secretary of State Madeline Albright added her voice to those protesting the atrocities.

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