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Sudanese Student Union raises awareness about Sudanese flooding crisis

The newly reunited SSU is holding the “Gophers for Sudan” fundraiser with other Sudanese college student groups to raise funds and awareness about the ongoing Sudanese flood emergency.
Image by Nur B. Adam
From left, Vice President Duaa Ibrahim, Treasurer Mazzin Khidir and Secretary Sansan Kong of the Sudanese Student Union pose for a portrait in front of Northrop Auditorium on Monday, Sept. 28. Sudanese Student Union came together last spring after being inactive since 2015.

The Sudanese Student Union at the University of Minnesota is holding a virtual fundraiser to provide essential aid to communities and families in Sudan affected by the current flood crisis.

In September, the Blue Nile River reached a record flooding level of over 17 meters, displacing hundreds of thousands of people and destroying more than 100,000 homes. As a result, Sudan has declared a three-month state of emergency.

The fundraiser is in collaboration with the Yale Students for Sudan and Johns Hopkins University Sudanese Student Union. The funds are collected through their Venmo and will be donated to Nafeer, a youth-led group, to provide food, medical aid and shelter to those affected by the floods.

Disbanded in 2015, the University’s Sudanese Student Union has re-registered as an official active organization this past spring semester in order to create a collective Sudanese community on campus.

“The Sudanese people in Minnesota don’t have a huge community, and the people that are here are super disconnected with each other … that was the main driving factor and all of us were really invested in the idea of having a Sudanese community at the U,” said Duaa Ibrahim, vice president of SSU.

The leaders of SSU said they wanted to bring the North and South Sudanese people together to create a more inclusive community.

“[The former president of Sudan] fueled a lot of division between the North, which is mainly Muslim and the South being mainly Anglo-Christians … he tried to do a lot of ethnic cleansing and genocide,” said Saja Osman, president of SSU.

Because of the conflict, South Sudanese people have been treated as second class citizens, she said.

“We are not separated in our views, but on campus, there are clear divisions between North Sudanese and South Sudanese students, and we don’t interact as much as a lot of us wish we would,” Ibrahim said.

Despite their differences, the leaders of SSU are coming together to create the community they said they wish they had growing up.

“I see [South Sudan] as a place with positive experiences with other people rather than a place of trauma where my parents have come from since many of the stories they told me were about fighting. I want to see it as the beautiful place that it is rather than a place of guns and warfare,” said Sansan Kong, secretary of SSU.

Mazzin Khidir, the treasurer of SSU, said he hopes to find more Sudanese students to create a sense of community at the University while also contributing to social justice causes during such a turbulent year as 2020.

“We have privileged lives being Americans, but we want to help our community as much as we can and doing a lot of the work here so they can receive help over there is really powerful,” Osman said.

The flood crisis in Sudan is still ongoing, and SSU hopes to reach a greater audience in order to help more people within their community in Sudan.

“Especially to the youth, we want to let them know that we didn’t just leave them by the wayside and come here to have a better life for ourselves. We want to let them know that we still see you, we’re still here for you, we still are a part of you guys, and we will not leave you there to drown within the floods,” Kong said.

This past summer, SSU has been posting on social media to raise awareness about the Black Lives Matter movement, Sudanese specific issues including the Darfur conflict in Sudan, and sexual assault and domestic violence resources near campus.

SSU’s vision for the current school year includes finding more people within the Sudanese community while simultaneously participating in advocacy-oriented initiatives.

“No one is advocating for Sudan, so the Sudanese people need to do it,” Ibrahim said.

Jasmine Snow contributed to this report.

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