Transcript: Thom & Ellen Ratner in Darfur 14 March 2008, part 4.
Thom and Ellen Ratner of Talk Radio News call in from Darfur to talk to Carl Wolfson.
Thom Hartmann and Ellen Ratner in Darfur: 14 March 2008
Thom Hartmann traveled to Darfur in the Sudan with other talk show hosts to bring "Sacks of Hope" and to provide awareness of the Sudanese Refugees (more). Carl Wolfson was anchoring the show at the Portland, Oregon end.
[Carl]: We're back. Carl Wolfson with you on the Thom Hartmann program. We'll be taking your calls at the top of the hour: 866 303 2270, that's 866 303 2270, thomhartmann.com is the place you can donate to sacks of hope to Sudanese refugees in Darfur. Thom Hartmann on the ground in Darfur. Thom, welcome back to your show.
[Thom]: Well thank you Carl, and I also want to recommend people go to miafarrow.org and click on her photo link and just let you know that there's a lot of great organizations that are doing work here, we're not the only one. In fact the UN is just doing such spectacular stuff that we've been seeing. Ellen Ratner is here with me, with Talk Radio News Service and Talkers magazine. She helped organize this thing, actually put it all together. She's responsible in large part for my being here, her and Joe Madison. And so I'd like to let you and Ellen do the last segment here then I'll let you have the show back and I'm going to go eat. OK?
[Carl]: Thom, there was talk of a goat, there. Louise wanted me to ask you about the goat.
[Thom]: Yes, there is. There is talk of a goat, but I'm not going to eat it.
[Carl]: OK, talk but no eat.
[Ellen]: The dish is with goat in it. And I have two pet goats, Nala and Nicky, and I'm not a happy camper.
[Carl]: Thom, you take care, my friend, I will see you on Monday morning here on the radio. Ellen Ratner, Talk Radio News, talkradionews.com. Ellen, usually don't talk to you from so far away, but welcome to the show.
[Ellen]: Well, thank you so much, Carl. You know, I am a bleeding heart liberal and I have also been to 60 countries and I have seen a lot of refugee camps. Now Thom has been active in Uganda where they were, you know, burying bodies. I've been in refugee camps on the edge of the Sudan, actually, in Eritrea, about ten years ago, in the Palestinian area, in Iraq, and I've got to tell you, I was moved beyond anything. You know, the United Nations is trying to do what they can do, but they can only do so much and they only have so much money.
I mean, we saw a boy today with a huge open sore, he will probably either die from it or have his leg amputated. There are no antibiotics. We saw two women dropped off by the United Nations, they had no idea where there meal is coming from tonight because there is no food, and the United Nations got them out of Darfur but there just is not enough food here. And although we were right by the tent of the United Nations Food Programme here, World Food Program, there just still is not enough food and we saw people who literally don't know where their next meal is coming from.
We saw people, a lot of young children, John Eibner from Christian Solidarity International pointed out to me, and by the way, I'm Jewish, and I've got to tell you they do amazing work and so, I know you can go to Thom's web site and go to our web site at talkradionews.com and click on the banner ad and donate any thing you can. But we went to the, we saw a lot of these children today; a lot of, you know, African children, with red hair and John pointed out to me that when they have red hair that is their malnutrition.
So you have people, young children, I saw a young child with a terrible eye problem, just swollen and all of these, many of these people live here, many more have come out of Darfur. And as I think you heard from people on the political situation, this was a war-torn area for 20 years, people went to the north, they went to Darfur and other places, and now they have to come back, and they've come back and their family members, particularly the men, are non-existent, because they've been killed. We saw a woman who had been taken into slavery and the young children, boys are also taken into slavery, brought into Darfur and it is only the United Nations that tries to get them out.
[Carl]: You know Ellen, remember so well from Vietnam that that was a TV war, and when the images came home into our homes, came home to America, public opinion changed against that war when we saw the brutality and horror of it. I think in this situation, what you are doing is just so important, to get not only the word out, but pictures, the film as well.
[Ellen]: You know, I just can't stress enough that for people we live such amazing lives, you know, and anything if you can squeeze out just that little bit of extra money it would be such a big help. I just, I'm just blown away and also blown away by the spirit of the people. When I was last in this region, which was on a presidential mission during the Clinton years, I was in a refugee camp on the border of the Sudan and there was this woman, just, it was hot, and there were like dead camel bones around and everything else like that, and the women were singing. It was a Saturday afternoon and they were singing 'Maria, Maria', and they were singing this song to Mary. They were Christians. And I mean, they had nothing. There were flies like you could not believe. It was like wall to wall flies. And yet the human spirit was strong with these people, and as I said, that blew me away, and as I said, I'm Jewish, and seeing that, you know, so many years ago, ten years ago, on the border of Sudan and Eritrea, and then today. You know, they're going to, we have tents to sleep in; they have nothing. They have no tarps, no nothing. If it rains, they are finished.
[Carl]: We're speaking with Ellen Ratner, Talk Radio News, talkradionews.com on the ground in Darfur in Sudan. And, you know, Ellen, we've talked to Joe Madison about the media by and large ignoring the story; a lot of journalists, not you, but others, who say it's, you know, 'where's my hotel?' You know, 'too tough to get in and out'. Do you know how many senators, congressmen, congresswomen have been to Darfur?
[Ellen]: I don't know. It would be a very interesting question to find out, and perhaps we should do a little survey and find out. And again, Darfur is one region that is a complete mess, but we're not quite at Darfur, we're right on the border of Darfur and, because, to get into Darfur you need all kinds of government whatever. But the situation here is the same. Because this is where the refugees are coming as soon as they leave Darfur. So, I mean, this is where you're seeing a lot of starvation as well.
[Carl]: Ellen, you don't have to apologize for being a bleeding heart liberal and I think we should, if anyone apologizes, they should stop. Compassion and empathy are barometers of our humanity, and thank God for you and Thom Hartmann, Joe Madison, everybody on the ground there for the work you're doing.
[Ellen]: Well thank you, Carl, and we'll be in touch with you next week.
[Carl]: Oh sure.
[Ellen]: Thom, say goodbye.
[Carl]: Hey Thom.
[Thom]: Hey, Carl. Goodnight Louise.
[Carl]: Hey, take care Thom. we'll see you back in Portland on Monday. Thom Hartmann, Ellen Ratner.
[Thom]: Thanks so much.
[Carl]: On the border with Darfur.
[Thom]: Actually I'll see you back on Wednesday.
[Carl]: Ok, we'll see you. Thank you.
This was the sixth and last segment of Thom's call in to the show; the last segment of the second hour.