October 21, 2014

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B-W student organizes concert to raise awarenes about Darfur

AVON — Darfur, a region in crisis in the African country of Sudan, is thousands of miles away from the suburban comfort of Avon, but that doesn’t stop one local woman from raising awareness of ongoing genocide.Seeing the images of rape, torture and murder that have gone on during the ongoing civil unrest in that part of the world is what inspired 20-year-old Kayleen Pennington to organize a “Save Darfur” benefit concert.

It is the least Pennington, a junior public relations major at Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, said she can do at this point in her life.

CHUCK HUMEL/CHRONICLE
Kayleen Pennington, a student at Baldwin-Wallace College, is selling T-shirts to raise money for awareness about civil unrest and genocide in Darfur.

“The research I did and videos I watched on YouTube were so moving, my first reaction was to just hop on a plane and go to Africa,” she said. “I knew I couldn’t do that, so I decided to do what I could — raise awareness and send support. Something needs to be done about Darfur before there is a Hollywood movie done about it.”

All the proceeds from the fundraiser will go directly to refugee camps and food providers via the African Union, an organization in

Sudan created to protect the civilians of Darfur. Pennington hopes to raise at least $7,000.

The event — featuring local musicians and singers volunteering their time and talent — will take place 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. Friday at Church on the Rise in Westlake.

The musical and vocal entertainers will include One Way 2 Worship; Amy Jo Scott; Jay T. Hairston II, whose performance will include an original song he wrote about Darfur; The Minimum Requirements; and The Taller We Grow.

Pennington said the musicians were not only happy to offer their talents, but also eager to learn about Darfur.

“Most people have heard about Darfur on the news, but didn’t really know what was going on or why they should care,” she said. “This has been an educating process as well, and I hope it shows people my age that it’s not impossible to do something to make a change in the world.”

IF YOU GO
To purchase tickets for the Oct. 19 concert, to make a donation, or for more information, call Church on the Rise at (440) 808-0200 or Kayleen Pennington at (440) 554-7052.

Tickets are $5 in advance and $6 at the door. There will also be a raffle and items for sale to raise funds at the concert.
For more information about the crisis in Darfur, visit www.savedarfur.org.

Before the performances, Pennington will play a brief video giving an overview of the situation in Darfur. The videotape will be provided by the Cleveland office of the “Facing History and Ourselves” organization.

Pennington said she also learned a lot about Darfur from reading the book “Not on Our Watch” by actor Don Cheadle and human rights activist John Prendergast.

She was moved into action when she learned that genocide in Darfur during the past four-plus years has claimed more than 400,000 innocent lives and displaced more than 2.5 million people from their homes. Refugees still face starvation, disease and rape, while those who remain in Darfur risk torture and death during the ongoing civil unrest in that part of the world.

“My mission is to help make a difference, even if it just saves one life,” Pennington said. “The atrocities in Darfur should not be happening in the 21st century. We must act quickly and decisively to end this genocide before hundreds of thousands more people are killed.”

Pennington will graduate from college in spring 2009, but first plans to spend this summer in Darfur on a mission trip to help people in the refugee camps.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 653-6268 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.