Live from Sudan – February 2020

Patricia Parker MBE, Kids for Kids Founder and CEO, is currently in Sudan. Over the next two weeks we will post updates here for you to follow along!

 

Patricia’s First Impressions of Darfur After Nine Years

Meeting Ibrahim Again – Wednesday 12th February

“There is so much to tell you – but I have to tell you some most exciting news first …. I met Ibrahim yesterday! He is the little 9 year old whose 7 hour walk across the desert inspired Kids for Kids and has improved the lives of over half a million people. He is tall, good looking – and shy. I met his wife and two of his three little children, his brother and sister – and his lovely mother Asma. It was her extraordinary generosity in offering me their only food – a bowl of goat’s milk – that made me realise we had to try to help. Ibrahim’s eldest is now at our first Kindergarten!  I met too Abdallah Salih who has taught himself English and sends me news astonishingly on FaceBook from their village Um Ga’al. It was my first visit for 17 years.

Meanwhile think of me tomorrow at our Workshop in El Fasher with members of the new Government, who too are determined to help their own people – how refreshing is that! – and, most importantly, representatives from our 100 villages.”

Interviews with Patricia Parker – Monday 10th February

 

Meetings – Monday 10th February

Visit to Dor Fazy Village – Sunday 9th February

Families greeting Patricia and the Kids for Kids team at Dor Fazy Village where the brand new health centre here has just been named for Robin Radclyffe, Patricia Parker’s partner who passed away suddenly last month. Robin was a huge part of the Kids for Kids team and we are happy we can dedicate the health centre to him, creating a lasting memorial in his name – a place that will provide essential and life-saving health services for families for years to come.

Field Visits to Abu Digeis, Majoub A, and Abu Sinait A – Saturday 8th February

 

Congratulating the excellent paravet Nassir for all his hard work looking after the health of the goats and donkeys, which keep the children healthy in Abu Digeis Village. He is exceptional as he also teaches others how to care for the animals, extending our reach beyond our own villages.

Here Nassir is proudly holding his Kids for Kids certificate!

 

 

 

“Our first field trip was grueling, exciting, nostalgic, familiar.  Alastair stayed behind because the FCO ruled it was dangerous – but they appear to treat the whole of Darfur as one. It’s vast. We drove fast bouncing across the tracks in the desert, only slowing for holes and bumps. We saw a big grey ground squirrel running fast and a large mouse with its mouth full. Little flocks of fast moving orange and red birds shot past the car. Abu Digeis was our first village, and met Nassir one of the wisest and best paravets!  We saw the kindergarten built well but needs paint and equipment. But the health centre is as I wanted it – beautiful paint and well kept. The first aid worker and midwives are very proud of their work. We went on to Majoub A where they are building a kindergarten. The community is so proud and the leader Abu Baker was prepared with a list of requests. The Forest was wonderful. Then off to see our first new village: Abu Sinait A where the needs are huge.”

– Patricia Parker MBE, Kids for Kids Founder and CEO

First Full Day in Darfur – Friday 7th February

“Awake in the middle of the night – such a day of emotions. Our first meeting in the Kids for Kids office and a banner ‘remembering Robin’ – and the years rolling back as we start on the first of many briefings about life in Darfur. For the first time in 19 years there is a feeling of freedom, relaxation, and hope. Hope at last.

Afterwards we headed off – back at last to the tree nursery. In 2007 it had been sand, a few empty seed beds and half a dozen trees at the edge. Look at it now. Thousands of tree seedlings grown there then transported to villages to turn them green too. My Demonstration Garden looks as if it has always been there. Do you see the shade ….. in a land turned to hot desert this is a dream for us all. Help us to plant trees. It is not too late. My giant baobab reaching high to the sky speaks for us all. Please give me another.”

Pictures below of Patricia visiting the El Fasher tree nursery that Kids for Kids completely renovated in 2007 – since then we have planted 53,000 trees across North Darfur!  Still going strong producing new seedlings – and a lot of shade. The baobab tree was re-introduced by Kids for Kids to North Darfur in 2007 . They are life-bringers, storing water in the trunks and using their seeds for tabaldi juice – great for blood pressure, and tens of other practical uses.

“Driving through El Fasher was as if the years had rolled back – hot sand, lovely light, the market beginning to come awake. At our little office at the back of the town the guard was an old friend. I felt a little like the queen – smell of new paint everywhere. As we waited for the meeting to start they quietly put up a huge poster commemorating Robin. He would have been in his element – but shocked and embarrassed to be honoured in this way.

Our first meeting could not have been more successful. Praise yes, thanks yes but also a great feeling of optimism with a new Government which has already declared itself determined to help people long term.

My notebook is full of ideas for further ways our help is needed already.  Our challenge is to try to convince people they can talk openly about the hardships they face. The previous Government did not want people to know the problems. We need to be able to find ways to help. Tomorrow we head out to make our first field trip in nine years.”

 

– Patricia Parker MBE, Kids for Kids Founder and CEO

We’re Back! – Thursday 6th February

“My little room in El Fasher. This is light years better than 9 years ago – but I’ve still taken the precaution of putting my universal plug across the hole in the floor. Please no visitors in the night!

Overwhelmed to be here again. Hatim tried to warn me that there might be people to welcome us – but I thought it would only be our wonderful Salim, Hassan and Adam, I had not expected all the ladies, lead by our darling Fowzia. Their messages of condolence were difficult to hear. Fowzia too had lost someone dear to her.

 I was so pleased to see our first supporter and volunteer Ibrahim Hamid HAC Commissioner after 9 long years – and then our old friend Mohammed Sidiq- now with the UN working on the environment and some of his former colleagues from Practical Action. It was so moving.   We’re home!”

– Patricia Parker MBE, Kids for Kids Founder and CEO

Update from Sudan, and the UK! – Wednesday 5th February

“My THREE little grandchildren. Toryn and Oscar and my new little granddaughter born today! Guess where I would like to be!  But it’s the Reception in a moment and I make a big speech to all the Great and the Good.  Our Patron The British Ambassador briefed us on security today and is hosting us at the Residence tonight – in his garden. It is beautiful weather here for me – cold for the Sudanese! Off to El Fasher for meetings with the new State Government friends from 9 years ago – and many many villagers. If only Robin could be with us.”
– Patricia Parker MBE, Kids for Kids Founder and CEO

 

Encouraging Meeting with the new Commissioner of the HAC Sudan – Tuesday 4th February

“We were delighted – but a little apprehensive – to be invited to a meeting by the new Commissioner of the Humanitarian Aid Commission in Khartoum. I need not have worried. HE Abbass Fadelallah already knew about our goat loans and of course Hatim, Alastair and I briefed him on all of our integrated projects. It was exciting, and so encouraging. They are registering new organisations to be run by local people and he would like our Project Implementation Manual in the hope, even if we cannot expand, that others will take up the mantle. For the first time HAC will also deliver humanitarian aid, especially to encourage people who have been displaced from their homes for so long, to return. As he said – they need exactly the sort of package of integrated projects that we provide – not least goat loans!
Tomorrow we travel to Darfur with his blessing.”
– Patricia Parker MBE, Kids for Kids Founder and CEO

 

Arrival in SudanMonday 3rd February

 
“As we set off for Sudan from London, still no visa for me from the Embassy but Khalid Mekki, a friend of long standing, assured us all would be well. Alastair and I flew via Addis Ababa then on to Khartoum. We realised I was at risk of deportation- but there at the airport we were whisked off to the VIP lounge and at last, after nine long years, I am back on the soil of Sudan with Khalid and our wonderful friend Hatim Abu Sineina to greet us. My passport had its visa.
We are staying with Hatim’s family as we have done for so many years in the past and for the first time for days I have slept somewhat better.
 
We are in Sudan at last and today I see Omer Shumeina who has been our Honorary Treasurer for all these years. Without him and Hatim safeguarding our funds, Kids for Kids could not have survived. So much has changed – and so much is the same. I feel as Sleeping Beauty must have felt when she awoke. Robin, who came with me for so many visits, is not here but there are friends awaiting us and soon we head to Darfur.
 
I have spoken to Salim and my plans for a workshop are going ahead. Villagers are filling in my Questionnaire already. But it will not be easy. Security is volatile and the Foreign Office advice is not to go to Darfur – even for essential travel.”
 
– Patricia Parker MBE, Kids for Kids Founder and CEO