It took eight long days and nights, but a band of youth walking in the name of a war-torn region of Sudan finally made it home to Edmonton yesterday afternoon.
“I don’t feel any of the blisters or cuts at all,” said Mike Glazier, looking down at his bandaged feet and knees. “It’s a small price to pay, and a fraction of what the people in Darfur go through.”
Glazier is one of 25 participants in the second annual Walk for Darfur trek from Calgary to Edmonton, in hopes of spreading awareness about the plight of the people in the region.
“We were put through the most extreme conditions you could ask for. Eight days on a highway is not an ideal situation,” said organizer Ravi Jaipaul. “I think what really united 25 strangers was one common cause.”
The Darfur region in western Sudan has seen some of the most extreme human rights violations of the 21st century. The genocide in the area has caused over 200,000 deaths since 2003, and has forced over two million people to flee from their homes.
Though Jaipaul said he’s outraged about the injustice, he feels the greatest weapon at his disposal is education. Along the eight-day hike north up the Queen Elizabeth 2 Highway, the group stopped at community high schools, spreading the word on Darfur.
After listening to the group speak at her high school in Didsbury, 16-year-old Suzanne Baril and her 14-year-old sister Elisabeth were so inspired, they decided to make the last leg of the trip with the group, despite the fact that Elisabeth requires a wheelchair if walking for more than five minutes.
“I didn’t know much about Darfur before, but now I just want to spread awareness,” Elisabeth said.
“They were so passionate about it and brought an amazing light to the whole situation,” Suzanne added. “It’s not affecting us here, but it’s affecting the world. We all live here together and need to support each other.”