DARFUR IN 2012: The Foreign Office continues to advise against all travel to Darfur. In the absence of the big aid agencies and their publicity machines there are no reports of current conditions. In the villages beyond the camps, children sleep on the sand, in a bare hut made from the stalks of the staple crop, millet. Every single person, not just the children, faces prolonged malnutrition in the wake of severe drought in 2010/2011. Many children have nothing to sleep under and succumb to chest infections, a major risk when they are malnourished. Blankets are so costly 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. People toil in the stony ground to grow crops which fail through lack of water or pest infestation. 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. Inflation is soaring - officially 21% in August 2011 - in Darfur it is even higher because of its isolation and instability.
Key to the Kids for Kids' projects is the Goat Loan which helps 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 the villages. Our midwives and first aid workers are saving lives every single day. There are already 68 Kids for Kids midwives, trained in our own school in El Fasher. 40 more start their training 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 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.