As the humanitarian prepares for a hunger strike, she tells PEOPLE her objective and her fears
It’s a starvation diet – and that’s no joke. On Monday, April 27, actress and humanitarian Mia Farrow plans to stop eating for as long as she can to show support for the people of the war-ravaged Darfur region of Sudan. The 64-year-old UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador hopes her fasting draws attention to the million people at risk of starvation in the region after the Sudanese government expelled 13 aid agencies last month.
She talked to PEOPLE about how she’s preparing for the fast.
What will your last meal be?
I don’t know. Probably a fist full of aging, chocolate Easter eggs.
Have you ever engaged in anything this physically challenging before?
Not even remotely.
Are you scared at all?
A little bit. I don’t know what it will do to me physically or to my mind. But that’s okay. More than a million people may die, what does it matter if I am scared or not.
You’ve already consulted a doctor about your hunger strike. How else are you preparing?
I gained 9 lbs. That is about as much as I could gain in a month because I know I am going to lose a fourth of my body mass. Normally I weigh 109 and so I went up to 118. But that will quickly go. I am just eating fruit and vegetables this week and I am reading certain things and spending time with my kids, trying to be quiet, because among other things it is a very personal and spiritual journey. I’m taking vitamins this week, but when I wake up on Monday, April 27, it will be strictly water.
How long do you think you can hold on for?
I am going to try for three weeks. Given my weight that may not come to pass. I am going to get my blood tested after two weeks and if there is organ damage, I will have to stop. But my goal is three weeks. I won’t be able to go to the doctor at that point, someone is going to have to come to the house and give me a blood test.
What do your kids say about it?
My son Fletcher and his wife who live next door [to her home in Connecticut where she will fast] have been great. Without them, I am not sure I could really undertake this. Others of my children were very upset. I have talked to them at length. They understand the reasons and the stakes.
How did you come up with the idea?
It came out of desperation, realizing that so many people faced starvation in Darfur. I thought what will it take, what is there left to do after all these years? I don’t want to sound presumptuous or even assume that anyone will care at all, but facing the grimmest of realities, I just don’t see how I can join the multitudes and watch a million people die. After 11 trips to the region, I have friends there and promises to keep. … It brought me to this point where I was exasperated beyond all description. We felt that as much as we adore President Obama he was very slow to appoint an envoy to Sudan.
What do you hope your actions will motivate people to do?
I hope that people will call upon our government to make Darfur a priority and to finally bring about peace in Darfur, and, of course to readmit the humanitarians. The people of Darfur have suffered long enough. People can just call 1800-GENOCIDE and say, ‘I think Darfur should be a priority.’ We are looking at a genocide that could dwarf the Rwandan genocide and no one is saying anything. If one old actress goes on a hunger strike, maybe we can do something.
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