Each year we watch for the rains in Darfur. Before they come, fires often sweep through villages from sparks from kitchen fires, causing devastation because everything is at its most dry and brittle. Then the rains come, and sometimes with such ferocity that there are flash floods. In fact, 84 goats were drowned two years ago in our villages.
This year, four children drowned in a hole left where people had dug out sand to make bricks. You would have thought that this rush of water would mean that worries for next year's harvest had a chance. But not so. Millet, the staple crop, the stalks of which are used for hut walls and for fences, takes three months to mature. In North Darfur this year, the rains have been late. A successful millet harvest is unlikely. This means farmers need sorghum seed if they are to have a chance of having sufficient food for their families next year, but few have. The thought of another year when children die from starvation, is horrific. I have been asked if Kids for Kids could provide seeds for the hardest hit villages in the north of Darfur. My aim is to provide 3kgs each per family. There are hundreds of families we should help with seed to plant, let alone their need for water, goats, health care and everything else. The market price in Darfur at the moment is £1.75 a kilo, plus transport. Please can you add as many kilos as possible of sorghum seed to your Christmas list?
Violence in Darfur is escalating. It is heartbreaking to think that more villages have been torched this year, than ever before, yet the world is silent, but this is not the worst problem the people of Darfur have to face. Children are starving in the villages but no one is helping. We simply have to do everything possible to prevent people from forgetting Darfur. There are so many other regions in the world who face tragedy but something Kids for Kids can say with certainty is that the help the you are enabling us to give to children in remote villages really is helping us to transform their lives.
Last year there were eighteen villages on our shortlist, when we were having to decide which five we would be able to adopt in 2014. Of course we wished it had been all of them because each village leader reported children dying from starvation or malaria in 2013. Although we could not adopt all eighteen, we have just completed delivery of mosquito nets to all of them, in time to combat the onslaught of mosquitoes with the coming rains.
It is these simple grassroots preventive measures that are the key to so much of what we do. Next month for example, paravets and first aid workers will start their training. The result will be small health problems, in both animals and humans, prevented in many cases from becoming more serious. Anything we can do to help people so far away from assistance makes a difference. Our goats continue to transform the lives of children and their families.
Thank you for remembering Darfur.
In the 65 Kids for Kids villages malnutrition is being prevented but there are many others that need our help urgently. Outside of our adopted villages mothers face the daily uncertainty of feeding their children. There are many days when a meal is just not possible. Inflation continues to soar and much needed protein is out of reach. There are many villages that have applied for our help but sadly we cannot help them all. Those that have applied report children dying from malnutrition and malaria in recent weeks. How can the world stand by and let these children perish. There is a solution but we need more help.
The reason children are not facing starvation in Kids for Kids' villages is because we work directly with villagers to help them to run the projects themselves to ensure sustainability. Crucially too, we teach them how to be accountable to their own communities. Having your support has enabled us to provide our whole package of projects which affect every aspect of their lives. However, funds are of course always stretched and there are hundreds of villages that we cannot yet help.
Our goats provide a family with a chance to escape the desperate poverty that is overwhelming families in Darfur. With the right level of care, six goats can become 20 goats in two years. The family then pass on six healthy goats to another family, and in two years they do the same. The income from these goats, and the protein from their milk, can transform and even save lives. Our large mosquito nets are large enough to protect a whole family, they cost just £16. This is a small price to pay for a life.
The price of goats in Darfur is now £38 – can you help us buy one more?
Last month we were sent a picture of little Suha, aged 4, she has lost the ability to walk because of malnutrition. It is difficult to comprehend how her mother must feel knowing that a lack of food has caused her daughter's limbs to waste way. The World Food Programme has used the word 'famine' in its forecast for Darfur in 2014 yet no-one is conducting a Food Security Survey. This allows the world to feel that it does not need to act. Nobody is helping these children because the media is remaining silent on this forgotten region.
This is heartbreaking because our projects are simple, we are preventing malnutrition through our goat loans and training programmes, and if others did the same, more lives would be saved. Our loan of 6 goats to a family, which then pass on to another family after 2 years, is still being called the most effective microfinance scheme in the world! The long term benefit of goat's milk for children, when they have no other protein, is beyond price, but also the income mothers can earn from their little flocks and donkeys, tranforms their lives.
We spent over £90, 000 ($147, 600) on goats in 2013 - the most we have ever spent! But we do need even more. Children are starving and the gift of a goat can, quite literally, save their lives. Darfur remains out of sight, but the tragedy that is unfolding there is no less tragic because we cannot see it on our screens. 47% of families in the villages have lost not one, but two children under the age of 5 in the past 2 years. This is horrific and we are doing all we can. Thank you for helping and please consider buying a goat or donkey today.
Since our last report the situation in Darfur has continued to worsen. Kids for Kids remains the only organisation specifically helping villagers. Although large parts of the country are in dire need of humanitarian aid, armed conflict and the lack of infrastructure make it difficult for international organisations to reach the population in need. (SOS Children's Villages Aug 2013). Emergency aid for those in the camps is inadequate, but there is no help whatsoever for two thirds of the population in the villages of Darfur struggling to cope with the direct and indirect effects of years of violence, loss of even the most basic health care, and now, soaring inflation. Many villagers have cut down their food to one, pitifully small, meal a day. Families can no longer afford protein in any form. This has dire consequences, especially for children.
Last month the villagers were dealt another blow. The Government oil subsidy has just been cut. This will result in everything that is sent from outside Darfur, costing more to transport, leading to even higher prices for everything, including the most basic essentials. In Nyala in South Darfur traders in the market ecently reported price rises of 500% (Sudan Tibune, 2013).
The future for the invisible children of Darfur is bleak. The UN warned of famine, and we see in the villages of Darfur the affects of hunger and shockingly inadequate diet. For the past twelve years Kids for Kids has been providing a package of life changing projects, simple grassroots initiatives, such as a microfinance scheme based on the loan of 6 goats to a family, which pass on 6 after 2 years. Even this Goat Loan on its own transforms lives, but linked to ourprovision of handpumps, donkeys, ploughs, blankets, mosquito nets and much more, and the training of village midwives, paravets and first aid workers, our projects are lifting people out of abject poverty and transforming wholecommunities.
Kids for Kids has shown that our simple help can change lives. Only last week, a lady called Khajida told our Programme Manager that when she passed on six healthy kids to another family in 2007, she was left with a flockof 20 goats. The income that these generated for her enabled her not only to improve the basic conditions of theirlives, but to pay for the schooling of all of her children. Two have now completed their schooling. When you think that only 5% of children complete their schooling, you can see how important the goat loan was to her family.
In 2013 Kids for Kids has seen a reduction in the number of donations received due to world economics yet more people need our help. Our goats are transforming lives, not only do they give immediate nutrition from their milk but they help families build a viable future too. The price of one goat now costs £60 ($95). Never before has our help been so vital. Thank you for supporting this project - your kindness has made a difference but please tell people what you know about Darfur and encourage them to help too. Children need our help and people are desparate.
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