Human rights activist delivers speech regarding Africa

Noa Braun, Author

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Author and human rights activist John Prendergast spoke in front of multiple Paly students on Feb. 1, in the Social Studies Resource Center, regarding his humanitarian efforts and forsights for the future of Africa.

Prendergast spoke of the lack of coverage regarding the issues plaguing the continent of Africa.

“Many of us learn about Africa from the minimal and occasional news,” Prendergast said. “People supply the news that they perceive Americans to be interested in. It’s a very rare thing that schools teach about Africa and its politics. If they’re not giving you this news, there would be no reason for you to know about it. The root problem is the way that we teach history and social studies in our schools causes people to become insulated. There is minimal education about these issues.”

Prendergast is the co-founder of multiple organizations such as, the Satellite Sentinel Project, Darfur Dream Team: Sister Schools Initiative and Enough: the Raise Hope for Congo, founded to support African youth.

“We created a sister school program called the Darfur Dream Team,” Prendergast said. “The main point was to link high schools and colleges in the United States with refugee camps in Africa in order to provide a proper education for the kids.”

By means of social media, Prendergast’s organization is creating communication between the students in the United States and multiple refugee camps throughout Africa.

“We are creating the ability for the kids in the United Sates to connect with kids in Darfur,” Prendergast said. “These are real names, real stories, real people, and real communication. It isn’t a faceless charity anymore, rather a two-way communication.”

By providing a structured education to Africa’s youth, Prendergasts aspires to provide support for those facing adversities in Africa.

“We are now able to expand their horizons in a tangible way,” Prendergast said. “I believe that quality schooling can be the antidote to issues such as child soldiers. By investing in their future and education, we are sending them the message that their lives really matter to us.”

Furthermore, Prendergast is adamant in his belief that today’s youth can impact the government and future policy decisions.

“Social media is expanding; people with Facebook, Twitter, and blogs have a massive audience they can impact,” Prendergast said. “If today’s youth begins to link up with organization, friends and people within their community, they can have a definite impact. If they [the youth] show an interest in a particular issue, the government will go out and do something about it. There is a great amount of impact that the younger generation can make.”

Despite the issues that Africa is currently battling, Prendergast expressed his confidence in the future of Africa.

“I’ve seen incredible miracles occur in Africa throughout my life,” Prendergast said. “I am very hopeful for the future and am certain we will see progress.”