"On This Cold And Bitter Night" began when my soul opened to the suffering of the women and children of Darfur. The poem arrived first and slowly morphed into the "cry for help" and the cry for connecting with a world that seems in a large measure if not indifferent, at times frozen by the continuing pain that human beings inflict on each other.

The written words of the poem seemed in need for the sound that only music can provide as a more direct route to the heart. I began searching for the right music that I hoped would bring the two - poem and music - to resonate towards inspiring participation on the part of the listener, slowly defrosting the heart. I found a responsive young man with a recording studio in Tallahassee, Florida, two young girls, as well as my daughter, Joanna, and I, to complement the voices heard on the 12-minute videotape.

The process of making this video began when I applied for a fellowship at the Vermont Studio Center, and while there I developed the visual content in the form of three individual collage panels of 4' X 4' that eventually found their way into the video.

Faces are what define as human beings. The faces of Darfur languishing under death and destruction, hunger and rape, are part of the first panel...as images set in sand.

The arms reaching across the many bodies of dead people are part of the second panel. One hears the sound of raising alarms, the poem and the music interspersed along the sound track.

You hear the painful sound of voices asking for help, while normal families are seen reflecting normal life, as part of the third panel. And with no relief in sight, speaking for those that cannot speak for themselves, one hears "DO YOU HEAR US?".

Hope lies within your hands and heart as to how you connect and respond.

Gigi McKendric

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