Life in Darfur
Darfur – Where the poorest families survive on less than £50 ($75) a year and where inflation is soaring. Since the creation of South Sudan, and the loss of the oil, the price of even the most basic of essentials has rocketed. Mothers can no longer afford to feed their children protein in any form. Prolonged malnutrition damages growth, weakens bones and teeth and destroys brain cells. The future is a bleak prospect for a mother who worries every day how she can feed her little ones. Village leaders reported children dying of starvation in their villages last year. Yet the world stood by and did nothing. Now, this year, more mothers face this horrifying prospect. But you can help us make a difference.
Kids for Kids adopts remote villages in Darfur, where children are living in intolerable poverty. You can see the needs for yourself in this short film, and we have provided further reading below.
Beyond the vast camps across the endless scrub and sand, out of sight, there are countless families struggling to survive in the deserts of Darfur. Life is indescribably hard, endless toil, from the moment the sun gets up to when night descends. There is no help in the villages for families, who are struggling to feed their children as subsistence farmers, surviving on millet, the staple crop, which, if it grows to maturity, also provides the means to build their huts and fences. When the crops fail there is nothing to fall back on. Without animals, unless they have been able to save seed from the previous year’s crops, a family does not stand a chance.
There is virtually no health care in any village, no veterinary care for the livestock on which they rely, and water can be many miles away. Clean water is a luxury. Most survive on water from hand dug wells, until they dry up. If you have crouched beside such a hole, as the water seeps slowly in, every drop to be scooped out, full of sand, you will have an idea of the hardship of life in Darfur. Then when this water dries up the long walk for water begins.
KIDS FOR KIDS is showing that something can be done to change people’s lives. Despite the difficulties, we are directly transforming the lives of mothers and children – and whole villages. Our help is immediate, enabling mothers to make decisions for their families, often for the first time in their lives. Our key project is a Goat Loan. We lend a family six goats for two years. By teaching them how to rear a little flock of goats they are not only able to feed their children, the bi-products of the goats provide an income, enabling them to send their children to school, buy medicines and other essentials. After two years, when their original six goats have multiplied, they pass on six healthy offspring to another family in need. One Goat Loan helps many families. The Goat Loan Project is run by the villagers themselves. We help them form an Animal Loan Committee, answerable to the whole community, which runs the project and makes sure it works for the benefit of everyone.
Family Help: As well as goats we lend families a little donkey – the only form of transport where there are no roads. We provide a donkey plough, to be shared between three families, and give each mother two large blankets for her children. Nights are cold in the desert. Many children, weakened from prolonged malnutrition, die from chest infections. Children sleep directly on the sand floor of the small straw huts, where sand flies bite them, spreading germs causing diarrhoea and vomiting – killers of children who are malnourished. We also provide food trays and covers to keep flies away. Few families own more than .two cooking pots and two or three bowls – for approximately six to eight family members. This year we are pleased to be able to provide fuel efficient stoves which means less wood is needed, saving the few trees, and meaning women walk less in search of wood and face fewer dangers of attack.
Fatima Daoud Jumaa lives in Lawabid, has six children and is a widow. She had nothing to rely on and only a small patch of land. Just two years of the Goat Loan her children were all at school,
milk and yoghurt have become a guaranteed part of the family diet and her children are healthier. Last month, she was able to buy notebooks and pencils for the first time, for them all. She herself does not read or write, but she has been able to budget, and has also saved enough for a second small hut, and a surrounding fence.
Lawabid became a Kids for Kids village in 2006. Now four generations of beneficiaries are benefiting from just one goat loan project! Fatima is a Kids for Kids beneficiary, receiving six goats as part of a loans scheme run by villagers who have been trained to form an Animal Loans Committee. There is veterinary care from the Kids for Kids paravet and Fatima now has a flock of 26 breeding goats, and has passed on six of their offspring to another family. That family too has now reared a little flock, and passed on six goats to another family. An unexpected advantage Fatima says, is that before 2006 she often had to be away from her children to try to find work, or to scavenge for firewood to sell. Now she is at home with her family, because she has an income from her animals. She says “Thank you Kids for Kids for the valuable assistance provided to the poor people and I hope for the expansion of the assistance to include more poor people so they can educate their children”. She passed on 6 offspring in 2008, and in 2010 6 were passed by that family to another family in need ….. and so it goes on. In October she told us that two of her children are now at University in El Fasher!
Where families like Fatima’s live there are no roads, no electricity, no telephones and little access to health care or education. When the rains fail, so does this fragile economy, forcing children to walk miles for water. KIDS FOR KIDS is working with the community to prevent this. Our aims are to support projects which are long lasting, self sustaining and community led. Houses (tukuls) are small round huts made out of wood and the stalks of millet. Often whole families live in just one small tukul. Journalists describe them as made of “wood and sticks” but it is the food crop which provides the building materials, straw. Millet is the staple diet which grows to 6 ft in good years, but can fail completely when the rains fail. The huts have a millet stalk fence around them to provide some protection from the winds that race across the desert. When an haboob blows you cannot see in front of you. It is like walking into a solid wall of sand. Many people get lost in haboobs, becoming disoriented, and die. When the crops fail you have no way to mend your hut. Many are at risk of collapse.
A village is a small group of tukuls with even smaller groups of tukuls creating satellite villages often several miles from the main centre. The land they work can cover large distances because it is so arid, stony and hard to cultivate. Communities are between two to five thousand people in all. Many are much smaller. A family, often with six children (the mortality rate is high), live in each little tukul. Statistics show that there are more children under the age of ten, than over ten. Since the violence erupted in 2003 countless children’s birth has not been registered, so there is no record of their deaths. “I asked Fatima, the “richest women” in Um Shireiga, what her family of 8 owned.” said Patricia Parker MBE Founder of Kids for Kids. ” The list was pitiful, just 2 beds, 4 blankets, 3 cups, 5 dishes, 1 knife, 3 spoons, 1 tea pot, 2 metal cooking pots, 1 small water pot, 1 mat, 2 jerry cans. And Fatima is fortunate. Families are being forced to sell even these few items when food runs out.”
Countless families are so poor they have no bedding, no mat on the sand floor. The children have no shoes to wear and small children’s dresses have long since lost their colour. It is cold in the desert at night, and in January, can be very cold indeed.
When the sun goes down the goats are brought back to the village to take shelter. There is no light in the villages so that children have told us their problem with homework is that they cannot see to do it. We are now providing 2 SOLAR LANTERNS for each village – one for the children and one for literacy classes for the women. This also used for emergency deliveries at night by our VILLAGE MIDWIVES.
WATER – we seek help to provide HAND PUMPS near each village. After an electro magnetic geophysical survey carried out by the water authorities from El Fasher (the regional capital) a drilling rig has to be used to dig down, sometimes deep down, to reach the water. Without these pumps, people survive on hand dug wells which dry up in the heat of summer when temperatures soar to over 50%C. This is when crops and animals die. And the little goat comes into its own.