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Film Depicts Horrors Kids Live Through in Darfur


World  (tags: africa, Darfur )

Ana
- 3430 days ago - courierpostonline.com
The Cherry Hill pediatrician knew the Sudanese authorities would not allow him to bring home the drawings -- gifts from the children he treated at a camp for the hundreds of families displaced by the bloody conflict that plagued the African nation



   

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Ana M (90)
Sunday June 28, 2009, 3:06 am


CHERRY HILL Dr. Jerry Ehrlich didn't look at the drawings he had smuggled out of Darfur until after he landed at Newark International Airport.
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The Cherry Hill pediatrician knew the Sudanese authorities would not allow him to bring home the drawings -- gifts from the children he treated at a camp for the hundreds of families displaced by the bloody conflict that plagued the African nation -- so he stuffed them inside the pages of a Sunday edition of The New York Times.

"I brought with me 20 boxes of crayons," said Ehrlich, who was in Darfur in 2004 as volunteer with Doctors Without Borders, a humanitarian organization that sends medical professionals to provide care for people in areas plagued by war and catastrophe. "I wanted to bring back images done by children that depicted their life. When no one was looking, I took the drawings out of my pack and put it between the pages. I very seldom looked at them."

Sitting on the airport's terminal while waiting for his ride home, Ehrlich finally thumbed through the drawings.

What he saw forever changed him.

"The violence, the horror," Ehrlich said of the drawings. "When I examined them, I knew I had to do something. I looked at these pictures and I knew they had to be seen."

Ehrlich recounts his story in a short documentary, "Crayons and Paper", being screened Saturday and Sunday as part of the ongoing Philadelphia Independent Film Festival.

"It was a powerful film," festival co-director Steve Greenbaum said. "It was telling. It thought it was an important story to tell."

The documentary, directed by Chicago filmmaker Bruce David Janu, is a follow up to "Facing Sudan", a film that hit the festival circuit in 2007 and garnered two best documentary awards.

The film is among the roughly 200 independent films, 45 of them documentaries, being screened at nine venues in the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia during the four-day festival.

This is only the second year of the festival, which is already earning a reputation nationwide as a good venue to showcase independent films that wouldn't otherwise be seen.

"We consider ourselves a real, do it yourself, independent film festival," Greenbaum said. "We look for filmmakers who are passionate about telling a story, the type of filmmaker that will be deep into credit card debt just so they can finish their film."

Ehrlich, whose trip to Sudan was his fourth mission with Doctors Without Borders, said the film is another way to tell the story of children around the globe who are caught in the crossfire.

"That's why I talk about it," Ehrlich said. "If I could end this conflict one month, two months, three months earlier, the amount of lives that could be saved are countless."

Ehrlich's first three missions with Doctors Without Borders were to Sri Lanka, where he spent a total of one year in 1991, 1999 and 2000.

"I was there during the civil war," Ehrlich said.

The 74-year-old also spent time in Haiti and Georgia as a volunteer with another international humanitarian aid organization.

Of all the places he visited, Sudan sticks out the most in his mind.

"They were all bad, but in Darfur, it's real genocide," Ehrlich said.

Ehrlich spent most of his time there treating children at the camp's medical center, a collection of about eight large tents.

"It was a huge complex that held 200 children and their families with mats on the desert sand and that's how we treated the children," Ehrlich said.

The estimated population of the camp was 30,000 when he first arrived, Ehrlich said. When he left two months later, it had doubled, he added.

The drawings have been on display throughout the country.

The movie, he said, is yet another venue to expose the horrors the children documented in their simple drawings.

"I love the message," Ehrlich said of the film. "We're still the number one player in the world and we could really end this. We could end it without military intervention. We could end it with just economic sanctions."

Drawing the pictures was therapeutic for the children, Ehrlich said.

"Talking about it is my therapy for not being there for them," Ehrlich said.

Reach Lavinia DeCastro at (856) 486-2652 or ldecastro@courierpostonline.com
 

Melissa Webber (4)
Monday June 29, 2009, 1:03 pm
Thank U
 

. (0)
Tuesday June 30, 2009, 3:41 am
Thannxxxx... it is horrific to what these small children are exposed to... sherbet lets hope the cycle is not repeated in their generation, as these conflicts bring in a great hardness of heart, and these children grow up with all sorts of issues and mental disorders
 

Winefred M (88)
Tuesday June 30, 2009, 7:58 am
War is something no kid should be exposed to. No matter what or where.
 

Fiona Ogilvie (562)
Tuesday June 30, 2009, 1:28 pm
My daughter is a doctor with Doctors With out Borders and they truly do go into every area of human conflict and natural disaster. I am so glad that a film is being made to show the world the horrors the children of one refugee camp.I am also glad that this film will make the world aware of the work of Doctors Without Borders.
 
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