Along the last 5k of the Sahara Marathon, which winds from the far Eastern end of Smara camp to the center, families and neighbors come together to encourage the finishing runners. Women wave flags and cheer while children come run alongside the participants, using their elementary Spanish to connect with the runners.
One might assume that after 45 years in the refugee camps – the majority of the population growing up in exile – any passion for justice would have faded. But while we run past these crowds who are thanking us for even the simplest displays of solidarity, we see that this hope of theirs has not died. Far from it. Even in the face of unfulfilled promises, human rights violations, and exploited resources – hope persists.
We wonder how they can continue to dream that one day justice will win and what is theirs will be returned to them. Their faith that the rest of us will wake up and honor their peaceful efforts certainly isn’t based on anything the world has yet done for them. Yet we join them in this hope and that’s why we call ourselves Not Forgotten, because we are committed to not forgetting this decades-long struggle and standing with the Saharawi people until it is resolved.
We wish we had some specific action steps we could offer you at the present moment, but what we can encourage you to do is to learn more and be available to the Saharawi cause. There are resources online to read more about their history, or our Facebook page could be a helpful place to start where we share updates about the situation and any petitions or other initiatives going around. We also share resources there from other Facebook pages, such as Saharawi Voice, which are run by Saharawis living in the camps and present varied and interesting material.
At the very least, the fact that the Saharawi situation is rarely heard of in the United States does not take away from how real and serious it is. So, tell someone you know about them! Let’s commit together to persist in hope with the Saharawi, and let it lead us to action!
Post By: Heather Jost, March 12th, 2020