Last June, communities joined together in a project known as Tents of Hope. The project took place in more 100 cities nationwide, aiming to increase awareness about the genocide taking place in Darfur, the western region of Sudan, Africa. By painting canvas tents reminiscent of those used by the more than 2.5 million Darfuri refugees uprooted from their homeland due to the genocide, members of the project hoped to provide awareness about the crisis taking place in Darfur and consequently, make real the images of hope, compassion, peace, and global solidarity painted on their tents.
To culminate the project, painted tents throughout the nation will be gathered and displayed on the National Mall in Washington in November to further increase awareness.
Among the tents present in Washington D.C. will be that of Modesto's College Avenue United Church of Christ which joined in the Tents of Hope Project last autumn. Besides painting the tent, College Avenue United Church of Christ has put on several events to raise awareness and funds for the Darfuri people.
The church's next Tents of Hope event for youth will be "Displace Me!" — an overnight refugee camp experience that will help participants understand what living in a displacement refugee camp is really like.
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During this event — which takes place Friday and Saturday — participants will spend the night in a cardboard box, eating nothing but crackers and drinking nothing but water until the following morning. Activities occurring throughout the night will further help young people understand the gravity of life without the basic conveniences they so often take for granted.
The event is open to those 11-21 years old, and their chaperones. Those under age 18 will need a registration and release form, which can be found in the "Young People" section on College Avenue United Church of Christ's Web site: www.cacc-ucc.org.
Participants should bring a large cardboard box to sleep in, blankets and/or a sleeping bag, a flashlight, two sleeves of saltine crackers, one gallon of drinking water, warm clothes, and, if under 18, the registration and release form signed by a legal guardian.
Electronic devices including iPods, gaming devices, and cell phones will be confiscated and held until the end of the event.
Adults will patrol the site all night to ensure the safety of participants.
Participants can show up anytime between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Friday at College Avenue United Church of Christ, 1341 College Avenue.
The event ends at 9 a.m. the following morning.
For further questions about "Displace Me!" contact Rob Brittain, at 522-7244, and for further information on the Tents of Hope project, visit www.tentsofhope.org.
Michelle Vecchio is a senior at Whitmore Charter High School and a member of The Bee's Teens in the Newsroom program.