Video: Man shines spotlight on Darfur crisis

By Ann Curry
NBC News
updated 5/1/2006 2:37:31 PM ET 2006-05-01T18:37:31

Mark Hanis is on a campaign. In classrooms across America, he's getting the message out.

"We are at 98 degrees," says Hanis. "We need to take it to 103. We need to be able to tell them, 'we are your constituents, you better have some talking points on this.'"

"This" is what's happening in the Darfur region of Sudan. And for Hanis, the grandson of holocaust survivors, it's personal.

"People can't stop genocide if they don't know about it," he says. "I'll always hear, 'never again, never again,' or see another elder in my Jewish community that had a number tattooed in his arm or her arm, see this is what happened."

Hasin's sentiment is echoed by Nobel Peace Prize recipient Eli Wiesel, a holocaust survivor, who told NBC News why American Jews were among the first to speak out on the crisis.

"Because when we were there, nobody came," says Wiesel. "I learned that suffering confers no privilege. It's what we do with it. That's the moral message, not to stand by."

Hanis and his friends are not standing by. They've raised $250,000 to help protect women and children in Darfur, funding cash-strapped African union troops in the region.

"Aid is absolutely necessary, the key focus should be protection," says Hanis.

They've launched a grassroots student movement called Genocide Intervention Network.

"You have student groups all over the country, both college and high schools, who have set up organizations on campuses all over the U.S. and become very, very agitated about what's happening," says John Prendergast with the International Crisis Group.

Two-hundred and fifty campuses have taken up the cause. The movement is seeing results, so far persuading 25 states and 18 universities to stop investing in companies that do business with Sudan.

"I think there is the passion, the energy and the idealism," says Hanis about student activism about Darfur. "The hope that we keep on saying, 'never again,' and we can actually keep that promise."

Spearheading it all, a 24-year-old activist who Sunday joined thousands of others in a protest rally against the violence in Darfur, just one young man, among many, trying to push America to act.

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments