For the past nine years, Bloomington citizens have assisted an ecumenical activist organization, the IFCO/Pastors for Peace, by collecting and shipping humanitarian aid to Bloomington's Sister-city Santa Clara, Cuba.
The next opportunity for locals to help Cubamistad-Bloomington, Indiana's Cuba Sister-city organization, with this effort will be July 11 when a bus will come through town to pick up donated equipment, supplies and funds.
The bus itself is donated and will also be left in Santa Clara. The focus for this year's caravan is on material aid for Cubans with special needs, but all manner of contributions will be welcomed.
A local group of concerned citizens are working to spread awareness of the ethnic cleansing in Darfur by meeting and sharing information about the situation and possible solutions to the conflict in the African nation of Sudan. SaveDarfur-Bloomington will host an event May 19 featuring Dr. Sarah Archer, a registered nurse and consultant with the U.S. military.
Archer is also former Director and Medical Coordinator of the International Medical Corps' presence in Rwanda in 1994-95. She will lead a teach-in on campus titled "Crisis in Darfur" at 5:30 on the 19th in Swain Hall East, Room 105.
"My discussion will focus on the effects of complex humanitarian emergencies like Darfur," Archer said. "I will go over the Genocide Convention on War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity as stated in the Rome Convention of the International Criminal Court (ICC)."
A local group of activistas recently helped facilitiate a relief campaign for a Pastors for Peace Caravan under the theme: "Connecting Communities in the Struggle for Social and Economic Justice." The cadre of compassionate citizens gathered computers and educational supplies, toys, medicine and medical supplies, and also collected money to buy food for displaced indigenous peoples in Chiapas, the southernmost state in Mexico.
Long-bearded local Ned Powell, who has driven the truck down in past years, spent April driving a route that made seven stops in the U.S. before reaching the border. Bloomington was the beginning of Route B, one of five such routes traversing the U.S. on the way to Mexico.
Powell described his experiences delivering aid:
"My last Caravan to Chiapas had been four years ago when Presidente Zedillo was in power. We were followed for over a thousand miles, photographed and videotaped, and were stopped 29 times at military checkpoints.