Are You Listening?

By: Sue Kafoglis

Wake up.

Scroll scroll. Ads. Facebook. Instagram. Comparison. Work meetings. Expectations. Political news articles. Billboards. Commercials. Buy this, Use that. Podcasts. Texts. Emails. Netflix.

Whatever it may be - Our days are confettied with noise.

So much noise that we forget what we are listening to. I’ll be the first to admit that I can be  taken captive by my screen. The news that overwhelms our feed becomes "the important news" and the news from which we constantly choose to listen.

When was the last time you saw a funny video of a cat or a leaked photo of a Kardashian? (mine was most likely an hour ago)

When was the last time you watched a video on the increase in the sex trafficking trade in Asia or the famine that is sweeping nations of Africa?

Are you really listening to what's going on around you?

Look down at what you’re wearing right now. Imagine being forced to leave everything with only the clothes on your back. Fleeing your country, your home, your job and the life you’ve built because your neighbors are fighting each other. You’re driven out by violent acts and gunfire, cloaked with fear.

A new country welcomes you - finally a safe haven. Your country is still at war and the previous sounds of your life are drowned out with gunfire and screams from your family imprinted into your memory. This new life is one filled with rationing food and water, with little to no healthcare or educational opportunities. When the clean water trucks are behind on their drop-off and you must trek miles to the nearest school, you’re left feeling isolated. Forgotten. Unheard.

This is the current reality for four million South Sudan refugees. There are more than one million  in Uganda alone and more than 85 percent of those are women and children. Many of the people of this country have grown up with war in their backyards. The only peace they’ve known started in 2011 when they declared independence after five decades of guerilla warfare. The peace ended in 2013 when the current civil war broke out.

In January 2018, our team of storytellers will travel to Africa to shine a light on and document the lives of South Sudanese living in refugee camps of northern Uganda. We would not be doing this if people were already listening.

We are going into this crisis to listen first before anything else. There is just over a month before we launch and I’m not only listening to the voice of this crisis, but I want to hear what you think. - What do you want to know? What can make our scroll culture stop and listen? Ask others what they think. Start the conversation.  We want to invite you on the journey to plant the seeds of this story with us and witness them take root.

To many, the images of this crisis are blurred. The voices are muffled. I know this, because six months ago when I first heard about the millions of South Sudanese refugees fleeing to the surrounding countries, I felt alarmingly distant from the statistics on the screen. My heart felt dulled to the suffering. I kept listening and learned these people are not much different from you and me.

As you cut through the forest saturated with sound, maybe you’re numbed to the thorns that cut our humanity deep - The pain shown on the News seems to never rest. We all think, “ surely someone else is taking care of this.” The United Nations and other international-aid agencies are doing what they can to provide basic needs to these refugees, but it’s not enough.

I can guarantee there will be stories of heartbreak and loss and unimaginable situations. I’m confident we will find hope in the midst of brokenness.  It certainly is easier to numb and drown out the pain with distractions from our screens. Just because we avoid doesn't make the problem less real.

This crisis deserves to be brought into focus with an echo that can resound through the ceaseless clutter we muddle through daily.

Ultimately, I want to point to the One who quiets the waves of noise that crash over us daily. Quiet the noise and listen to the stillness of the call. This story needs to be heard.

So...Are you listening?