Sudan

UK charity transforms children's lives in Darfur

Despite worsening news of continued violence and inflation, which has soared to over 45%, in the troubled region of Darfur giving rise to widespread malnutrition, outbreaks of yellow fever, malaria, diarrhoea and vomiting of epidemic proportion, families living in villages adopted by Kids for Kids can look forward to a better future in 2013. "We are showing there is a way to make a real difference. This is my New Year's Resolution" says Patricia Parker MBE, Founder of Kids for Kids.

Kids for Kids first started helping children in the troubled region of Darfur eleven years ago. Their long term grass roots projects, most life changing of which is their Goat Loan, lift not just individual families out of abject poverty but whole communities. "We do all we can to prevent small problems from becoming catastrophes" says Patricia, " I was horrified to find children walking 7 hours for every drop of water and to be told that rope delivery in childbirth was the best it got. When there is no health care within reach, and transport is a donkey or a stretcher between two donkeys, I knew I had to do something to help."

2013 sees Kids for Kids adopting two more villages, bringing the total number of villages, where they have introduced their whole package of integrated projects, to 64 - or over 300,000 people. This month 39 young village girls qualify as midwives. "They go home with a cross bred donkey, a mobile phone and leather sandals" says Patricia "I don't know which gives them more kudos!" 15 newly trained paravets returned home in December and the first Kids for Kids Kindergarten is being built in Abu Nahla. Meanwhile three community forests are growing well at Tikailat, Sewailinga and Lawabid - the first of 15 planned over the next 6 years - and most important of all goats are being delivered to families in 8 villages, including 84 in Sewailinga where a flash flood drowned goats eating in the dried up river bed.

"I am particularly proud that the news of better than normal rains this season also alerted me to the risk of more mosquitoes" said Patricia "what I could not have predicted was that those mosquitoes would carry the killer disease yellow fever, as well as malaria. Thankfully we were able to deliver mosquito nets for all the children of our beneficiaries. I just wish we could have provided nets for everyone." Yellow fever in Darfur is reported as being the worst outbreak in Africa for decades. There is no cure.

"The government of Sudan is encouraging aid for these desperately deprived people to be given only by local organisations" says Patricia "Luckily we decided three years ago to support a specially registered group of responsible village leaders and employ two Darfurians to run the projects from a small office in the regional capital, El Fasher. This has enabled us to save on administration and extend our direct help. Our funds come from individuals so we have to be sure every penny is spent correctly."

NOTES TO EDITORS:

In the absence of the big aid agencies from Darfur for almost 2 years, there are no reports of current conditions. In the villages beyond the camps, children sleep in a bare hut made from the stalks of the staple crop, millet. Every single person, not just the children, faces prolonged malnutrition because of continued violence and, since the creation of South Sudan, soaring inflation, which means that families cannot afford protein in any form. Many children have nothing to sleep under at night and succumb to chest infections, a major risk when they are malnourished. Blankets are so costly for families whose income is under £100 p.a., that they are considered a status symbol which few can afford. During daylight hours toddlers are tied to the hut to stop them wandering into the scorching sun, whilst their mothers walk many hours to reach water. There are few kindergartens. Illiteracy is high. 98% of women cannot read or write. People toil in the stony ground to grow crops which fail through lack of water or pest infestation. The largest aquifer in Africa lies under Darfur, but villagers cannot afford to dig for water. Even basic health care is beyond reach in the villages. The simplest wound, untreated, maims for life. There are no roads. Transport is a donkey. Animals are crucial for survival, but there is no veterinary care in the villages, and few can afford to buy a goat. No one reports these conditions because no one goes to the villages to see for themselves.

Key to the Kids for Kids' success is the integration of long term sustainable projects – all of which are identified, and run, by the communities themselves. Our Goat Loans help not just successive families, but whole communities. We lend 6 goats to a family for 2 years, and then 6 are passed to another family. We teach people to look after their animals, and we provide veterinary care. We give mothers donkeys to collect water, to pull ploughs and carts. Stronger donkeys pull our donkey ambulances and watercarts. There is no healthcare in villages. Our midwives and first aid workers are saving lives every single day. 39 new midwives graduate this month. People travel miles to seek their help. The health of the animals is inextricably linked to the health of the children. Our paravets run a revolving veterinary drug scheme in each village. Children sleep under a mosquito net and a blanket each night. They will not die of malaria (still the biggest killer in Africa) or be bitten by mosquitoes infected with yellow fever, or suffer so many chest infections. They will not be malnourished, like every other child in the villages of Darfur, thanks to goats’ milk - and they will wake each morning with the chance of a better future. Green belts of young healthy drought-resistant trees make a lasting difference to the environment. Most important of all, there is a handpump nearby. Water that used to take hours to reach, and to carry back home on the back of a donkey, or on your head. Because they are not walking for water, the children go to school every day.

Patricia Parker MBE CEO & Chairman of Trustees Kids for Kids tel: +44 (0)7957206440 P.O. Box 456 Dorking Surrey RH4 2WS SKYPE: patricia.parker1 SUDAN MOBILE: +249 91296 4187 www.kidsforkids.org.uk