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Aegis Students was officially launched in April 2006 at 1 Parliament Street, London and has since worked in universities and schools in the UK, Rwanda and the United States.
Aegis Students is a subsidiary of Aegis Trust. The word Aegis means ‘Shield’ or ‘Protection’, reflecting the need to protect vulnerable people against genocide and [crimes against humanity]. Aegis was established in 2000 to campaign against genocide and mass atrocities, and its activities include research, policy, education, commemoration, media work, campaigns and humanitarian support for victims.
Dr. James Smith, Founder and Chief Executive of Aegis Trust, realised the need for creating a grassroots student movement to educate and mobilise young people on the important issues surrounding genocide and mass atrocities.
The first society was launched at Oxford University in May 2005 and others soon followed in Derby, Kingston and Nottingham Trent. The movement rapidly grew to a national level and was officially launched as Aegis Students in April 2006 at 1 Parliament Street, London.
From there Aegis Students has grown to an international organisation, with societies in countries such as Rwanda, Canada and the United States.
The work of Aegis Students is officially supported by the National Union of Students in the UK.
Rwanda and Darfur
In 1994, in the central African country of Rwanda, 1,000,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus lost their lives at the hands of the Hutu majority in 100 days.
In Darfur, Sudan, between 250,000 and 400,000 people have died since 2003, mostly from the Fur, Zaghawa and Masalit ethnic groups. Although the mass-murder and widespread destruction of African villages that was seen in Darfur from 2003-2005 has come to an end, approximately 2.7 million people remain displaced, both in and outside Sudan’s borders, too afraid to return to their homes.
Recently, Aegis has broadened the focus of its Darfur work to concentrate on prospects for peace and stability across the whole of Sudan. Recent clashes in South Sudan have caused serious concern that the shaky peace brought about by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) could collapse. The CPA ended 20 years of civil war between North and South Sudan, a conflict in which up to 2 million people died.
Youth Education and Leadership Scheme
Aegis Students' Youth Education and Leadership Scheme is designed to equip young people with the knowledge and skills they need in the fight against genocide and mass atrocities.
Aegis Students' Education Team visit schools around the UK to explore issues around Prejudice & Persecution, Refugees and Asylum Seekers and the history and causes of the genocides in Rwanda and Darfur.
Aegis Students provides many volunteering opportunities, encouraging volunteers to engage with their local, national and global community. Aegis Students supports volunteers from all over the world in their volunteering. The organisation also offers UK-based National Volunteering Opportunities:
National campaigns team: Responsible for organising national grass roots campaigns.
National events team: Responsible for organising the Aegis Students’ Annual National Conference and other national grassroots funds and awareness raising events.
Aegis Youth Speakers: Trained in public speaking by the Aegis Students Education Team, these volunteers raise awareness in their own community of Aegis’s work.
Teach English to Darfuris Scheme: Volunteers gain a TESOL qualification and support the Darfuri survivors living in the UK by teaching them English.
Discover Rwanda is a three week trip for young people to Rwanda. The focus of the trip is to learn about the genocide which tore Rwanda apart in 1994. Participants meet survivors and engage in activities to confront the legacy of the genocide.
Fund4Darfur supports victims from Darfur. Money raised for this fund goes towards supporting those on the ground in refugee camps in Darfur's neighbouring country, Chad, to supporting Darfuri survivors in the UK and to campaigning to effect long-term change in the region and in UK policy.
Fund4Rwanda supports widows and orphan survivors of the 1994 genocide meet basic household needs. It also supports long-term education and training, providing young people with sustainable ways of protecting their futures.