Posted by Kevin Arnovitz
Last February, TrueHoop featured a piece co-authored by Tracy McGrady and John Prendergast of the Enough Project about their visit to Darfur and Chad. McGrady and Prendergast described the human suffering, destruction, and ethnic cleansing that has displaced 2.5 million people and killed more than 400,000 since 2003 (many estimate the mortality figure to be significantly higher).
Director Josh Rothstein chronicled the visit, and the resulting documentary -- 3 Points: Peace, Protection, and Punishment -- has been released on Hulu and can be viewed below.
At the outset of the documentary, McGrady can best be described as a nervous traveler. He's afraid of the small plane that transports him from Europe to Chad. He's afraid to eat the food at his comparatively luxurious hotel in N'Djamena. He's afraid of tooling around town in a Range Rover in the company of the Chadian ambassador.
"What have I gotten myself into?" McGrady asks rhetorically.
Over time, McGrady adapts to the realities on the ground. Counseled and accompanied by Prendergast and Sudanese human rights activist Omer Ismail, he demonstrates a sincere willingness to be educated on the situation, and asks smart questions. If the Janjaweed are such a small minority, how do they manage to exert so much brutal force on a much larger population?
When McGrady first arrives at Kou Kou Refugee Camp, Prendergast recommends that they walk around the camp inconspicuously rather than emerge from their jeep as the center of attention. McGrady heeds the advice, but it's hard for a regal 6-foot-8 man in a crisp while linen shirt to escape the attention of throngs of curious kids. In no time, McGrady has a band of cheery followers as he makes his way around the squalor of the camp.
Upon watching the kids play soccer on a hardscrabble sheet of dirt, McGrady's first gesture is to commit $1,000 to building a more suitable, flat pitch with proper goals. McGrady then inquires about what it would take to build a swimming pool before being told by Ismail that such a gift would be thought of as extravangant in a place where people desperately need basic amenities such as a roof.
It's a lesson McGrady quickly takes to heart. He sits beneath a tree to visit with a Chadian refugee named Ashta listening to her story. When she finished, McGrady simply asks, "How can an everyday American help her situation?" The answer: security, a functioning well and a school.
As McGrady goes deeper into the region and the stories of bloodshed become more grotesque, his mild observations evolve into expressions of heartfelt concern. The most profound and heartbreaking lesson we learn from 3 Points is that the victims of Darfur know that there are people nearby who want to slaughter them and their families (they've witnessed as much). But they're completely unaware that there are people who want to help.
It's this reality that drives McGrady more than anything.