WHS Guest Speaker Talks about Genocide to Students

Post date: Nov 26, 2013 8:6:14 PM

Speaker and human rights activist El Fadel Arbab of the Fur Cultural Revival (FCR): Darfur Community Center of Maine in Portland spoke to a group of about 150 students and staff at Wells High School on November 15th.

Mr. Arbab spoke to the sophomore class and a few juniors and freshman about his experiences as a 12-year old boy fleeing genocide in the region of Darfur in Sudan on the continent of Africa.

Arbab, now 30, was invited to speak by sophomores Caterina Richmond and Anna Furness whose presentation of Arbab was part of their project in a Genocide unit from their class, The World After 1945. Arbab also showed a music video about life today in a typical village from which he came.

To bring this speaker to WHS, Richmond and Furness had to raise $300. According to both students, they spent about 20 combined hours at the Dunkin Donuts in Wells and Moody where they would set up a table and greet people as they entered the restaurants. The students provided information about their project to those who wanted to listen and make a donation.

“We couldn’t have done this without their (Dunkin Donuts) help and the help of our teacher, Kevin O’Shaughnessy,” wrote Furness in an email.

Today Arbab lives in the Sudanese Community of Portland, Maine. He campaigns against and educates about the genocide he witnessed and the ongoing genocide in his native land.

On the lighter side, students found some of Arbab’s comments about coming to America amusing; comments about flying in a plane for the first time, experiencing snow and watching cartoons on television.

After his talk, Arbab met with students in a World After 1945 class taught by O’Shaughnessy.

“It was amazing to hear about Arbab's life and how different it is from mine,” wrote Anna Furness. “The most important thing I got out of this project was hearing the tragic stories that he told. I believe that no person should ever experience that as their childhood. Your childhood is meant to be filled with good memories, not memories of running for your life every day, hiding away from death as a child. It really shocks me that no one has put a stop to the horrific things that are happening in the world.”

Caption: With El Fadel Arbab are WHS sophomores Caterina Richmond (left) and Anna Furness.

Caption: Speaker and human rights activist El Fadel Arbab (left) meeting with students at WHS on November 15, 2013. Also standing up near the stage at far right are Caterina Richmond and Anna Furness.