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Jerry Erlich, a New Jersey pediatrician who worked for two months in Darfur during the summer of 2004 with Doctors Without Borders, speaks at Huntsman Hall.

All doctors are heroes in their own rights, but most do not put their lives in danger to save others and share their plight with the world.

Jerry Erlich is not like most doctors.

Erlich spoke last night about his experiences working with Doctors Without Borders in Darfur in 2004 to a crowd of about 40 students in Huntsman Hall.

After reading about Doctors Without Borders in 1991, Erlich said he felt it "had to be a part of my life experience," and he started volunteering with them soon after.

While he worked in the Darfur refugee camp, Erlich treated children suffering from a variety of conditions, especially malnutrition and measles.

"Bare hands, dirt floor, mother holding the child" was how he described the conditions of the less-than-pristine wards where he worked.

Despite a ban on taking pictures in Darfur, Erlich documented his experience with photographs that he snuck back to the U.S. within the folds of newspapers. He also brought back artwork by the children in the refugee camp where he served.

The pictures he brought back showed haunting images of planes dropping bombs, villages burning and corpses strewn everywhere.

"This is their life through their eyes, their minds, their hearts," Erlich said. "This is what these children drew over and over again."

He described the refugee camps as immense and full of despair.

"The displacement goes on and on," he said. "It's just an endless sea of huts."

"I think for many of us, the fact that Darfur is so far away and disconnected from our day to day life sometimes makes it hard for us to grasp the continuing tragedy," said Anna Mayergoyz, a senior in the College and a member of Students Taking Action Now Darfur. "To have someone come on to our campus and bring us face to face with the genocide will add a new dimension of proximity and relevance."

Erlich ended with a plea for Penn students to become involved by contacting their congressional representatives and educating others about the situation in Darfur.

"Right now, we are the only player in town, the U.S." he said. "But the U.S. can do it."

The event was co-sponsored by the Alliance for Understanding, Tzedek and STAND as a part of Human Rights Awareness Week.

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