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Georgetown and Duke Team Up for Darfur

February 1, 2010 – The Georgetown basketball team may have won against Duke on Jan. 30 in front of a capacity crowd that included President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, but students from both schools have put aside rivalry to become partners for a common cause -- Darfur refugees.

Through the Darfur Dream Team’s Sister Schools Program, students from the two universities are raising money for two schools located among the 12 refugee camps in nearby eastern Chad.

“Access to education will give refugee kids the tools they need to move out of the camps and support themselves,” said Carolyn Shanahan (C’12), president of Georgetown STAND (Students Taking Action Now: Darfur). “Many of the children have also expressed a desire to return to Sudan and rebuild the Darfur region. They need education in order to help stabilize their country.”

Sister’s a Father, Too

Nearly 3 million people have been forced to flee their homes as a result of the ongoing conflict in the Darfur region of western Sudan. There are now 250,000 refugees from Darfur in eastern Chad. Children account for more than 60 percent of the population of Darfuri refugee camps and face major educational challenges from lack of infrastructure and funding.

Georgetown’s sister school, Aboutalib -- which means father of scholars in Arabic -- is located in the Goz Amer refugee camp; Duke is raising money for another refugee school.

“Duke and Georgetown are fierce rivals on the court, but they’ve decided to partner off the court to provide a quality education to kids from Darfur who otherwise would have no opportunities,” said John Prendergast, co-founder of Enough.

Enough, a Center for American Progress project to end genocide and crimes against humanity, joins students from Georgetown STAND and the Duke for Darfur Coalition, NBA stars Tracy McGrady and Dikembe Mutombo (I’91) and former Georgetown Law Center Dean Alexander Aleinikoff, in effort to assist the refugees of Darfur. Aleinikoff is the newly appointed United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees.

The goal for both universities is to each raise $57,500 to operate and supply the schools. Ted Leonsis (C’77), owner of the Washington Capitals and Mystics and a member of the university’s board, will provide a matching gift of up to half of the amount needed to operate the school next year. Before Saturday afternoon’s Georgetown-Duke matchup the “Georgetown -- John Prendergast” team had raised more than $14,000.

The student groups also shared their mission with game-day spectators by showing a one-minute public service announcement on the Verizon Center’s Jumbotron.

“We hope that, in viewing the video, President Obama took to heart the necessity of active U.S. involvement in pressuring Sudan for reform,” said Daniel Solomon (SFS’13) of Georgetown STAND.

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