Making a Difference Through Story

by Paulette Cooper

“Leaves. And a little bit of sorghum,” was her answer.

I had asked her earlier, “What is your biggest need?” She answered, “Food.” “What did you eat today?” I asked. “Leaves. And a little bit of sorghum,” was her reply.

She and her people live in the Nuba Mountains in Sudan. They are being bombed and starved by their own government. Her words still echo in my mind. I look at my kitchen filled with a variety of food and remember her words. “Leaves. And a little bit of sorghum.” She is eating leaves. And a little bit of sorghum. How do we as a world community allow this to happen?

I spoke with her yesterday. It was Saturday. If conditions permit, we are able to talk with people living in the Nuba Mountains in Sudan. It all depends on how safe conditions are at the moment. Some weeks we are not able to talk with anyone because bombs and missiles are being fired. The people talk of the “voice” of the missiles and the “voice” of the bombs.

Who will be the voice for the people?

Starvation is pervasive as is malnutrition and disease ridden water. Another woman told me she had to make the choice—should she feed herself and the child within her or the one standing and starving in front of her. Malaria is rampant. I try to imagine what it must be like to live in a world filled with such fear and terror. I can’t come close.

I look at leaves differently now. I always will. I’ll remember her haunting words when I asked, “What did you eat today?” She replied, “Leaves. And a little bit of sorghum.”

I believe that each one of us always makes a difference. You will make a difference by telling her story. That is all I ask of you. Tell her story to at least one other person, and ask that person to share the story. You will make a difference. We cannot as human beings say, “Not on my watch,” and continue to do nothing but watch.

The people of the Nuba Mountains in Sudan need your help. The oral tradition of storytelling is a magnificent and powerful thing. It can move people in ways nothing else can. So, I ask you to share this story with others and by so doing, help make a difference. Each person makes a difference—always.

For more information about the Nuba Mountains Peace Coalition, go to

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