Together for Sudan The Bishop Mubarak Fund
NEWS LE TTER Power to the powerless through education
Building peace through service
Dear Friends of Sudan, A painful little book by the American writer Susan Sontag helps us understand why we are both attracted to and repelled by human suffering. In Regarding the Pain of Others, Sontag writes that “Compassion is an unstable emotion. It needs to be translated into action, or it withers.” This, precisely, is what Together for Sudan is about: moving beyond mere sympathy and responding actively to the misery caused by displacement, prejudice, illiteracy, poverty and other conditions such as blindness and HIV/AIDS. If we hope to understand the pain of others, we need to reach out to them, affiliate with them, stand by them in their suffering. Together for Sudan, a small charity dedicated to the education, protection and welfare of displaced and impoverished women and children, has been doing this for almost 15 years. For me, however, it all began much earlier. When I was four my mother asked each of her children to select one of our just received Christmas presents and take that gift to children in a family which had no gifts. I wasn’t very happy about this but remember feeling a strange joy after the handover of my toy telephone. The truth my mother understood is that unless we open our hearts to people who are underprivileged, illiterate, diseased, hopeless, maimed, unemployed, threatened, “not like us”, etc, we can never become fully human. Looking on the suffering of others, even the knowledge of their suffering, can be very painful. But allowing ourselves to engage with suffering -- be it human, animal or environmental – is to become more aware of the failure, grief and turmoil which hides in the shadows of even our most modern cities. You don’t have to go to Sudan to understand this. But Sudan is at present one of those places where suffering has pooled and congealed. To open yourself to the suffering of the Sudanese people is to become more burdened – but also more fully human. Together for Sudan is Muslims and Christians working together in service to the poor.
TfS office in Kadugli
TfS Field Representative Ibrahim Ahmad Jaber with two TfS university graduates now working back in the Nuba Mountains
Registered UK Charity No 1075852
TOGETHER FOR SUDAN EYE CARE OUTREACH TO LAGAWA IN SOUTH KORDOFAN Together for Sudan’s Eye Care Outreach began in the squatter settlements which surround Khartoum. It was a long hoped for project and when I called Sudanese ophthalmologist Dr. Nabila Radi to let her know that TfS was ready to begin this must needed gift to displaced and impoverished people she didn’t mince her words. “If you are going to help the poor you are going to suffer”, Dr. Nabila warned me and then, joyfully, “I can start tomorrow!” Since then the Together for Sudan Eye Care Outreach has restored the sight of thousands of people with cataracts and saved the sight of many others with eye injuries, trachoma and other conditions. In recent years, with the help of the Austrian charity Light for the World, we have been able to expand this celebrated project to South Kordofan where, during a November visit to Sudan, TfS Trustee Alan Goulty and I attended an Eye Care Outreach.
Ibrahim and a banner outside the small hospital where the outreach was held.
We set off at dawn from Kadugli enroute to Lagawa some four hours away along unpaved and deeply rutted tracks. With us in the truck were TfS Field Representative Ibrahim Ahmad Jaber who had the day before dismantled an enormous and fragile freestanding microscope which had been reluctantly loaned to TfS by the Kadugli Hospital Eye Care Unit (itself set up as a result of TfS Eye Care Outreach). The area is a bird watchers paradise but we had work to do and so pressed on. By mid-day when we arrived at the town of Lagawa the five day eye care outreach was well under way with several hundred people waiting to be examined by ophthalmologists and assistants brought from Khartoum a day earlier. Already several cataracts had been removed. For most of the waiting people, it would be the first time ever to have their eyes examined and the team was also on the alert for trachoma, squint and eye injuries. Late that afternoon, jolting back to Kadugli along the same difficult road, we felt enormously privileged to be part of an effort which lets people know that friends they have never met care enough to help safeguard and even, where possible, restore their sight.
A young girl protects her damaged eyes from the light.
By the end of the week 1,026 patients had been examined/treated, 156 cataract surgeries performed (with planned follow up) and several hundred pairs of eye spectacles distributed, most of these to people who had never before had glasses. Visit www.togetherforsudan.org for more information about TfS Eye Care Outreach. Older people wait to be examined.
YOUNG WOMEN ENROLLED IN TFS SPONSORED VOCATIONAL TRAINING. These nine young women represent a new and exciting trend in Together for Sudan’s educational work. Traditionally female Sudanese from poor or impoverished families have been limited to vocational training which centers around family health care or in other roles relegated to women such as small farming, care and repair of water pumps and manufacture and sale of clothing. Much of this work brings in little income. How could TfS help? Our first answer was literacy classes but it remained clear that marketable skills are also urgently needed by many women. With financial support from the Gordon Memorial College Trust Fund we have been able for several years to offer vocational training – mainly in medical areas such as nursing and midwifery – to impoverished and displaced women. But recently we decided to broaden our scholarships to include training for women in areas traditionally dominated by men. The very special young women pictured here are pioneers. With TfS help they have begun a lengthy course to become electricians, a career which we hope will improve their status and help them support their families.
A YOUNG MAN TELLS THE AUDIENCE AT A TfS SPONSORED HIV/AIDS AWARENESS OUTREACH THAT HE IS HIV POSITIVE BUT HOPES, WITH THE HELP OF FIDELITY, LOYALTY AND MEDICATION TO LIVE A LONG LIFE
The TfS HIV/AIDS Awareness Outreach has been active since 2003 in the squatter settlements for displaced persons on the outskirts of Khartoum. Our three teams, working closely together, have reached thousands of persons with information on how to protect yourself from AIDS and how to live with HIV in the family. Because CAFOD, our long standing partner in this project, is currently unable to continue support due to the international financial downturn, TfS is applying elsewhere to keep this vital project operational. We hope as well to expand the outreach to South Kordofan. Bordering Darfur and South Sudan, this important region is a pathway for trade and migration as well as HIV/AIDS. Please support this life saving project and help Sudanese children grow up with one or two parents rather than none. With adequate funding we would also be able to provide much needed home based care for people living with AIDS.
Working in Sudan : Our Educational and Educational Support Projects University Scholarships for women at Sudanese universities: Women Literacy Project: Teacher Training & Support: Orphan scholarships basic schooling for HIV/ AIDS orphans
Supporting 198 students until 2015 but no funds for new intakes funding being negotiated
new funding now available
Eye Care Outreach:
funded until early 2011
HIV/AIDS Awareness Outreach:
refocused on the Kadugli area – no funding working well – good funding support Has reached some 55,000 people but currently unfunded
Being the Together for Sudan treasurer can be something of a roller-coaster ride. Just at the moment the car seems to be on a rising slope and, financially, we are better off than we were a year ago. Long may upward travel continue! BUT - as with all treasurers there is always a ‘but’ - our improved fiscal position is mainly due to a number of very generous one-off donations from a variety of helpful sources. Many thanks to them for their crucial support. Many of you have also responded wonderfully to our plea for regular giving. If you are one of our standing order donors (or a regular supporter who sends me a cheque or CAF voucher) please know you are a terrific bunch of people; the charity would not survive without your generosity, loyalty and commitment. On behalf of all trustees, I send you all our warmest thanks and deepest gratitude. One-off donations are equally welcome, just to cover all bases! Norman Swanney, TfS treasurer At this time of accelerated tensions in Sudan as the January southern referendum approaches, we ask all Together for Sudan supporters and all people of good will to remember the Sudanese people. Whether, after the referendum, there will be one Sudan or two, there will certainly be millions of Sudanese in need of education, housing, security, health services, understanding and much more. Remember Sudan and its suffering people! With appreciation for your support,
Lillian Craig Harris OBE Director P.S. Help us save postage by emailing our newsletters!
Send your email address to: firstname.lastname@example.org And do please help sustain our work by signing the enclosed Gift Aid and/or Standing Order form. Make cheques payable to Together for Sudan and post to Norman Swanney, 33 Balmoral Road, Trowbridge, Wiltshire, BA14 OJS, England. U.S. dollar cheques should be made payable to
The Bishop Mubarak Fund and sent to the same address. To donate by CREDIT or DEBIT CARD go online at www.togetherforsudan.org/donate.htm and click on
Students at Fulla Falls elementary school in Soba Aradi area for displaced people outside Khartoum. TfS supports this school with teacher training and, as possible, tuition for HIV/AIDS affected children.
This is the December issue of the Together for Sudan charity's newsletter. With pictures and information about our work in the Nuba Mountain...