“Find your voice, make a choice and take action.”

That is the slogan serving as the backbone of 15-year-old Madison Southern High School student Cassie Warren’s quest to help the spread of genocide in Darfur, Sudan

Warren founded VoiceChoiceAction Inc., or VCA, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing relief to Darfuri refugees while raising awareness of the Darfur crisis throughout the local community, Warren said.

“I’m always looking for opportunities to collaborate with local business because essentially it kills two birds with one stone,” she said. “It raises awareness throughout the community and raises funds to actually help these people.”

Now VoiceChoiceAction, in collaboration with Berea’s Main Street Café, at 106 Main St., is hosting a charity event Thursday, Aug. 28 from 4 to 9 p.m. called “Dine for Darfur.”

“This project, as well as all fundraisers I do to help Darfur, affects me really deeply,” Warren said. “It makes me feel like I’m doing my part to help these people. I’m being a voice for the people in Darfur who don’t have the opportunity to share their stories.”

The benefit will include live music from local band Decking Ceasar and other local bands, games and activities all while supporters throughout the community come to have dinner at Main Street Café.

All proceeds from “Dine for Darfur” will be given to VoiceChoiceAction — which will then use the money to bring some everyday necessities to the people of Darfur, Warren said.

Her young age was something that deterred her at first, but she quickly found out that it was not a problem.

“When the owner of Main Street Café, Sune Frederiksen, wanted to meet with me in person I was super nervous because he didn’t know how old I was,” she said. “But when I actually talked with him and he could see how passionate I was about this, he agreed to let me use his venue.”

Darfur was declared a genocide by Colin Powell in 2004.

“I’m horrified at what’s going on in Darfur,” Warren said. “An estimated 400,000 have died. Most sources say that is a low estimate, too. I mean, isn’t that a staggering number? And to make it worse, the Sudanese government is funding the militia groups, known as the Janjaweed, who are killing these people. The Janjaweed are trying to eliminate the non-Arabs, but this ethnic group makes up half of Sudan’s population. Rape is used as a weapon of war on women and girls of all ages. The Janjaweed torture and terrorize these people. These are crimes against humanity.”

The majority of Americans are too uneducated about the subject in Warren’s opinion. 

“The media needs to step it up,” she said. “They need to educate Americans about these things. School systems around the world need to make global awareness a part of their curriculum. I also think that Americans need to take it upon their selves to be educated about what is going on in the world around them.”

Contact Warren at Cassie.a.warren@gmail.com for more information about the benefit.

Ronica Shannon can be reached at rshannon@richmondregister.com or 623-1669, Ext. 234.

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