"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." - Anne Frank
That's a bonus quote because I'd intended to write this post earlier, but as usual, my best intentions are uh...only intentions. Nonetheless, I have been combing the blogosphere evangelizing about this book to anybody who will listen because I think it's a book that everybody should read. Daoud Hari's The Translator was a great book about what's going on in Darfur. In my humble opinion, Halima Bashir's Tears of the Desert is better. Please read one or both of these books, especially if you don't know much about what the world continues to allow to happen in Darfur despite promises of "Never again."
When Halima Bashir leaves her small, isolated Zaghawa village for school in a neighboring larger town, it doesn't take her long to figure out what she wants to do with her education. Bashir dreams of being a medical doctor who can return to her village and help her people. Despite growing tensions and racial discrimination between the majority black Africans and minority Arabs of Sudan, Bashir's intelligence and hard work combined with her father's love and support enable her to follow her dream to university in Khartoum. After attaining her degree, she returns to her village and to the town where she originally attended school where she serves as a trainee doctor, but life as she knew it is already changing.
Rumors are afoot of deadly groups of Arabs fighting a "Holy War" against black African "infidels," and as Halima helps to treat everyone regardless of color or creed who arrives at the accident and emergency ward of the hospital, the growing danger and atrocity become all too apparent. When she dares to speak out to a newspaper reporter about the things that she sees even in the most vague terms, beating and interrogation soon follow. But it is not until she is assigned to head a clinic in another remote village that the truly dire circumstances of the violence the Arabs are unleashing in Darfur really begin to reveal themselves.
I can't say enough about Tears of the Desert. After the first chapter, I was entirely taken in, basking in Bashir's rich early memories of her family, her village, and her childhood. Each of her relatives and friends is so well described and her love for them so obvious that it almost feels like knowing them personally. Bashir's tales of growing up paint her as an outspoken smart and strong girl who won't accept anything less than her due who reaches adulthood as a smart, strong, and stunningly courageous woman determined to help her people and her homeland despite great personal risk.
One could hardly expect a book about such a difficult topic to be so compulsively readable, but this one is. Make no mistake, parts of this book are gut-wrenchingly difficult to read, but Bashir's honesty and unflinching attention to detail is entirely necessary. Bashir's is a powerful and an important tale and is fully equipped to be a significant part of showing people what is going on in Sudan and motivating people around the world to do their part to stop it.
When I finished it, I was definitely fired up to take some action against what's happening in Sudan, and I certainly hope books like Tears of the Desert and The Translator will inspire many others to do likewise. If you want to get involved, you can. For starters, buy this book. You'll get to read a great book and Part of the proceeds the authors earn from it will go toward increasing awareness and helping the refugees forced to flee Darfur. You can also visit Save Darfur and sign their petition or donate. Also, of course, there's still a little more time to get involved with Natasha's month of Reading and Blogging for Darfur where even doing something so small as leaving a comment or two can make a difference, so if you haven't checked out what she's doing yet, please check it out now before September ends!
Interested in reading another review?
Diary of An Eccentric