Are you aware of the genocide in Darfur? Dave Christi, a professional voice talent and copywriter is, and he’s using everything he’s got to help stop it. Will you join him? Read the interview with Dave Christi, founder of Voices For A Change at VOX Daily.
A couple of days ago, I found an interesting link on Bob Souer’s blog that led to Voices For A Change, an organization comprising of professional voice talent that is working towards bringing awareness and an end to one of the worlds most evil atrocities, genocide, particularly, the genocide in the Darfur region of western Sudan.
A genocide literally means that an entire group of people, or, in many cases, the majority of a population, is annihilated without just cause. The motives behind these genocides often revolve around religion, politics and ethnicity with hate as the catalyst.Merriam-Webster defines genocide as:
The deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group
You may recall the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. At the time, Canadian Lieutenant-General Romeo Dallaire was in the then war-torn Rwanda with a UN peacekeeping mission.
While he was there, he heard that there was going to be a genocide. In this country, there are two distinct groups of people, the Hutu people and the Tutsi people, the latter being the minority and also considered the aristocracy. To give you an extremely brief summary of what happened, the Tutsi people suffered a genocide at the hands of the Hutu while the world turned a blind eye. Between April 6th and July 16th 1994, over 800,000 Tutsi men, women, and children along with moderate Hutus were slaughtered over a period of 100 days – a massacre which Amnesty International NOW Magazine called a modern Reign of Terror.
I happened to have the opportunity to attend a moving presentation a couple of years ago that screened a documentary about the Rwandan genocide in London. Major Brent Beardsley, who served as the personal staff officer to LGen Romeo Dallaire in Rwanda, was there to share what he saw of the massacre first hand and how if the UN had only continued to provide support to their peacekeepers, the genocide may have been stopped.
Several survivors from the genocide were there and spoke that evening, many of whom were the only living members of their family, letting us as Canadians know how much it meant to them that RomÃ©o Dallaire and his troops did not pull out or abandon them when the United Nations and the rest of the world did. RomÃ©o Dallaire and his troops defied the UN in order to defend the people of Rwanda, and the battle they fought has made the term genocide very real. The question Romeo Dallaire asks is “Are all humans human? Or… are some humans more human than others?”
What is going on in Darfur is eerily familiar… it is a genocide.
In our human history, we have seen genocides before Darfur and Rwanda, although, sometimes they are known by other names. Remember what happened to the Jewish people during World War II? The Holocaust, as termed by the British government, is a genocide. Millions of Jewish people were brutally murdered by the Nazi regime. History repeats itself, but as we also know of history, we can learn from it to change the world.
While it is true that not everyone can be at ground zero, there are things that you can still do from home. When I heard about what Dave Christi had started, my heart broke for the people of Darfur and I wanted to see his purpose and the mission of his colleagues uplifted and shared with you. I was fortunate to have an interview with Dave earlier this week.
Stephanie: What inspired you to start this project?
Dave Christi: A while ago, I happened upon an article online about a recent trip that a celebrity had taken to Darfur. Then another person on another trip. Then another and another. I wondered, “What’s going on in Darfur?” I always knew that there were problems in Africa, but I never knew to what extent. A quick Google search later, I found information on SaveDarfur.org.
I was horrified. Not just by the atrocities happening there, but by my own ignorance of the gravity of the situation. I couldn’t figure out why I hadn’t heard more about this on CNN or MSNBC or CBS. Through SaveDarfur.org, I petitioned my congressman and signed the petition to President Bush, etc., but I didn’t feel like I was doing enough. I don’t have sacks of cash lying around, so I decided to donate my talents as a voiceover artist and copywriter. Then, I figured there may be one or two other voiceover talents that would like to contribute in the same way.
Stephanie: Do you offer services to charitable organizations directly, or do they need to find you first and ask?
Dave: The Voices for a Change website and concept are all still in their infancy. My vision is to offer voiceover services to non-profits that may need a PSA read, or a presentation narrated. Also, since I am a writer, I am putting together a series of PSAs for radio. As far as I can tell, there is a serious LACK of media coverage of this genocide. I’ll be contacting Amnesty International, The Save Darfur Coalition, BeAWitness.org and ask them what Voices For A Change can do to help.
Stephanie: How many people are involved with the project?
Dave: This is the truly amazing part. I made this project public when I had the first PSA script written. That was on Monday, December 11. Just a few days later and I have over 20 voiceover talents who have helped on the PSA and many more that have expressed an interest in donating their voices for future projects.
I am now looking for others that can help with the administration of Voices for a Change.
Stephanie: Do you have a mission statement?
Dave: Not an official statement, but the mission is 3-fold:
1. – Donating voiceover work to non-profits who raise money/awareness for the crisis in Darfur.
2. – Drive website traffic through VoicesforAChange.org to sites that accept donations.
3. – Creating effective PSA’s to distribute to radio stations to help raise public awareness of the crisis in Darfur.
Stephanie: Do you have a blog to promote your project?
Dave: The entire website (VoicesForAChange.org) is setup on WordPress blogger software. I found this the easiest way to organize the fluid content of the site. So, yes, a blog is in place.
Stephanie: What is the demand for a service like Voices for a Change?
Dave: I feel the demand could be quite great. Like any “for-profit” business, charities need to market themselves. This means they need voice work. UNLIKE a “for-profit” business, charities don’t have large marketing budgets. Every penny they have to spend is one less penny that goes toward their cause. If an organization like Voices for a Change can lower their bottom line just a bit, I feel like we’ve been successful.
Stephanie: What does a typical client of your service look like?
Dave: Right now there is just one focus. Darfur. I am running Voices for a Change as a one man show right now. If I’m successful with charities that help Darfur, then I’d like to expand to domestic children’s charities like St. Jude or Make a Wish.
Stephanie: Do you have a case study on hand that people could relate to?
Dave: The only case study I have right now is my own. The abuse of human rights in Darfur as been going on since 2003. Why was I unaware until the end of 2006? Why is it that my local and national media saw fit to educate me on every tedious detail of TomKat’s relationship, yet the stories of the suffering of the Darfuri people go unaired and unpublished?
Stephanie: How would someone go about getting a talent to record their message? Can clients pick their preferred voice from your base of volunteer talent or do talent view opportunities and respond if interested?
Dave: Right now I am collecting names of those interested in donating and I’m still researching charities that would need work done. Come to think of it, Voices.com has a lot of experience in getting voices and people who need voices together. Hmm, maybe I should ask THEIR advice on how this should be handled. 😉
Stephanie: What qualifies to be recorded for free through your service? Are there any restrictions?
Dave: I want to ensure that the charities that use Voices for a Change are legitimate. In the US, that would simply mean faxing a copy of their 501(c)(3) to us before they would be given access to our services. The other requirement is that their charitable efforts go toward delivering relief to, raising public awareness for, and encouraging media and government response for the genocide in Darfur.
Stephanie: How can people get involved?
Dave: Even those who do not wish to donate their voices may still help the people of Darfur. Talk to your congressman. Talk to your local media. Talk to your friends. BeAWitness.org said it very well; “You can’t stop a genocide if you don’t know about it.”
Stephanie: Thank you Dave for your time and for sharing this mission with us at Voices.com.
Dave: Thank you for the opportunity.
For more information, visit VoicesForAChange.org.