Last week (27th April) there was a massive fire that swept across Um Hagalig, a desperately poor village which we adopted in 2007. People have lost everything. 150 huts were burned to the ground, over 160 goats and 16 donkeys were killed. Much of the village is totally destroyed. Fires are a major hazard in Darfur at this time of year because everything is tinder dry – and the huts and the fences are made of straw. Once a fire takes hold, all people can do is to run for their lives. It is a miracle that only one person died. But this is not the only fire – in Afein Village two families lost everything, in Majoub A – which I visited so happily in February – 22 families are now homeless and in Fardal, three families are in need of help. On May 7th we were informed of a fifth fire in Um Oshra Village which has burned 61 huts to the ground – and the primary school. Kids for Kids adopted Um Oshra in 2008, and they had been doing so much better, with brick walls to their houses and a new primary school. Families in all villages affected have lost all their possessions, their savings and their animals – it is heartbreaking. And there is no one to help them – except us.
It is hard to take in the news of another tragedy on top of all that is devastating people’s lives in Darfur right now. As we feared, the first COVID-19 cases have now been identified in Darfur. When I returned from Sudan in February my fear was starvation for children – already they were only having two sparse meals. As the heat increases to over 50 degrees and the walk for water becomes longer and longer, it was starvation that I was going to appeal for you to help me with. Then the virus had become the urgency – and I knew that soap had to be top of the list – if only I could provide everything. To think now of the despair of the families. It is just impossible to imagine what families in these five villages must be going through as they deal with this recent blow. We are very sorry to share that the fire has killed one person, a 65 year old woman named Maryam in Um Hagalig Village, who had worked to help her community for years. Our thoughts are with Maryam’s family, and everyone in Um Hagalig, Afein, Majoub A, and Fardal villages at this time.
Every two years, since Kids for Kids adopted Um Hagalig Village in 2007, families have passed on goats from the original Goat Loan so that more and more families have benefitted directly. Our Kids for Kids Steering Committee Chairman, Adam Sabil, immediately set off to visit the village as soon as we heard the news. The loss of animals in the fire is absolutely devastating for Kids for Kids – but imagine what people must feel to know their animals, their often sole source of income, have perished. People love their animals and it was because they keep them close at night – though there is no danger from wild animals in Darfur because of the loss of trees and vegetation – that so many died. What hope do they have now? Many families had saved up money from selling crops and milk and yoghurt at market, and been able to buy basic household goods, bed frames, and more. Extra cash would be hidden under their mattresses, burning up in the fire. Everything is gone now. With 150 huts destroyed in Um Hagalig alone, hundreds of people are left with nothing – no bed, no food, no jerrycans, and nowhere to go.
“Adam has assessed the urgent need. We will be providing goats, donkeys, a mattress, blankets, mosquito nets (the rains are desperately needed but they bring mosquitos, and malaria – the biggest killer, until the virus, in Darfur) cooking utensils and jerry cans. All are urgently needed right now. Please help by donating here.
It really puts in perspective how bad things are in Darfur. The whole world is dealing with COVID-19 but families living in dire poverty at the forefront of global warming, have it so much worse. Could you imagine a devastating fire right now, tearing down your house, where you are supposed to be isolating? It is truly unimaginable. We have to help immediately. It just isn’t right.”
– Patricia Parker MBE, Founder and CEO
Kids for Kids is currently using funds raised to fund our Urgent Appeal for Soap for villages so people can wash properly and prevent COVID-19. We are also continuing to provide our long-term sustainable projects to all our villages at this time. This means we need to raise more money, and urgently, to help families immediately who have been left with nothing. We are hoping to have a store in the future of urgently needed items so we can help even more quickly when disaster strikes. We have also ordered an investigation to find out how we can help villages with fire prevention going forward. In the meantime, please can you help us help families right now?
You can donate now to our ‘Rebuilding Um Hagalig’ Fund. Anything you can give is so appreciated. Thank you.