Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Back from Sudan

My early November visit to Khartoum and environs was, as always, both endearing and heartbreaking. The Sudanese people, both northerners and those displaced from the south and Darfur, are so friendly and kind that visitors tend not to understand how stressed, unhappy and even hungry many of them are. Victor Gali Thomas, Together for Sudan’s Deputy Country Coordinator, and I visited two of the “self help basic schools” in the squatter settlement of Soba Aradi . Together for Sudan has been helping these schools for more than ten years but circumstances at Soba Aradi, a miserable waterless wasteland of blowing sand and deep poverty, are worse than ever and the future more precarious.

Khartoum is expanding and one day when the bull dozers arrive yet again, they will not stop and even the schools and places of worship will go. Meanwhile, we do what we can although due to the present international recession this is far less than we have done in the past. A member of the Parent/Teacher Association at one of our partner schools wept as he explained present circumstances to us.

During every visit to Sudan I am reminded how precarious life is for the majority of the 38 million Sudanese and how important education is to their present and future. In a country which is oil rich, survival remains the primary objective of millions of Sudanese, including the perhaps three million who now live in squalid encampments for displaced persons outside Khartoum.
For thousands of these people – and for similarly impoverished and marginalized people in the Nuba Mountains – the Together for Sudan Eye Care Outreach is the only medical attention they ever receive: thus the importance of keeping Dr. Nabila in antibiotics as well as eye ointments.

Together for Sudan is using this time of economic recession to reconsider several of our projects. Readjustments already include combining the Teacher Training and Basic Scholars projects and a planned reduction in the number of universities included in our University Scholarships Project. The expansion of the Vocational Training Project is another intension but one which currently lacks funding, as does our previously dynamic Women’s Literacy Project. There is much to ponder and to plan but we face the current situation in full confidence that by listening to what displaced and marginalised people say they need, the way forward will be found. Please join us in this life saving effort.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Injury Overcome and the Marathon Itself

So finally we come to the culmination of my narrative. My training went smoothly until a fortnight or so before the marathon. I was feeling good and pushing myself a bit on one training session when I felt a pain in my hamstring. I assumed that it would quickly disappear but it didn’t. So, panic that all my training had been in vain, and I would not be able to run. Robyn then suggested the osteopath at the local leisure centre, who diagnosed a torn muscle. He used acupuncture and then pounded away at my leg. This was all unknown territory for me but I felt OK on my next run so was very grateful and relieved.

And now it is all over. I went down to Winchester on Saturday evening and a kind friend provided a bed and a carbohydrate-filled dinner and breakfast. Sunday morning dawned clear and fine, which was a relief, and the Wiltshire downs looked beautiful from the bus which took us to Salisbury. We got there soon after 9.00 am so there was plenty of time to loosen up before the start at 10.15 when some 400 of us set out.

I actually quite enjoyed the first couple of hours of the run. The sun was out, there was a gentle and cooling south wind, and most of the running was on reasonable tracks or smooth downland turf. The atmosphere was pleasant and supportive and we even managed to chat some of the time. Every nine or ten minutes we passed another mile marker so at the end of three hours I was beyond Kings Somborne and had covered some 18 miles.

So, only eight miles to go, but anyone who has run this sort of distance will know that it the last part of the run which is really tough. As we climbed out of the Test Valley and back on the downs, on the steepest part of the run, I felt my energy rapidly draining away. My leg muscles really began to ache and just putting one foot in front of the other became a great effort. I was no longer in control of my speed and I had to rely on will power – and the thought of how much money was raised each mile that I covered – to keep going. It was very encouraging to find Robyn and Juliet in Ham Green to cheer me on. By then I was within three miles of the finish and I got a bit of a second wind. Even so, those last eight miles took me two hours, so my final time was just under five hours.

For the first few minutes after the finish both walking and talking were difficult, but I gradually came round and once we reached our friend’s house a hot bath and cups of tea and scones revived me – the thought of those was the other thing that kept me going!

I am hugely grateful for the sponsorship I got. I have received some 60 individual donations already, with quite a few more to come. The total raised should exceed £2,500 and there will be Gift Aid to add to that, so it will be a significant contribution to Together for Sudan’s funds. My warm thanks to all the donors who read this.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Website Updated

It's been a while since my last blog entry but a lot has been happening behind the scenes and the Together for Sudan website has been updated with some interesting new articles. There are letters from some of our University Students and also notes from our new vocational scholarship apprentices. There is an appeal for this project which is on the homepage and a general appeal because as always there is never enough money to do all the things that need doing. If you've been reading the TfS blog you will know all about Adrian and his coming marathon - please support this if you can- but you may not know about a young lady in Bristol called Marie who ran a half marathon and raised over £300 for us. Thank you Marie, you're a hero.

Because of this we are inviting people to do the same. Create a Just Giving page, do something and raise some cash to help with the work we do. Become a TfS hero. If enough people do it I'll make a hero gallery page on the website. See our charity Just Giving page here.

All the pages mentioned above are connected by hyperlink so just click on any one of them to learn more or click here if you want to know more about being a hero. The picture I have included is of the Together for Sudan office staff in Khartoum, they manage all the good work that Together for Sudan does, they are my heroes.

Dave Lewis

Monday, 14 September 2009

Pushing Myself

I regarded today with some trepidation as it was the date for my longest training run. Previously I had not run for more than two hours but this one was supposed to be for three, so getting on for the marathon distance.

I am lucky around here in at least having plenty of pleasant areas to run in. I started below Alexandra Palace in Alexandra Park, then went via Highgate Woods to Hampstead Heath, which provides a long circuit with plenty of hills. I certainly felt myself slowing down after the first hour and a half and the hills became much more of an effort. Curiously my breathing, which tends to slow me down on shorter runs, was not a problem today; it was the weariness in my legs which affected me more and more as time went on.

For the sake of realism I extended my run along the local railway walk to Finsbury Park so I ended up doing 3hours. That was good psychologically as I now know that I can push myself to do a bit more even when I am pretty tired. I suppose that I did 17 or 18 miles altogether, so not to far off the marathon distance. Writing this three hours later I do not feel too exhausted so hopefully all the training has had some effect.

Now the training schedule tails off with a 1 hour run next weekend followed by a series of short runs to keep things ticking over until the big day. Then, hopefully, I shall have the responsibility of actually justifying the sponsorship to keep me going, and can reflect that any discomfort I suffer running is fairly paltry compared the challenges faced everyday by displaced and marginalized people in Sudan.

Adrian Thomas

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Scotland and London - Thinking Ahead

Thursday 27th August. My last run in Scotland – a long one on the smooth sandy roads of the Balmoral estate; a beautiful early evening and I am surprised at how much distance I am able to cover. There is a bit of wind and it starts me thinking about the factors I shall have to worry about on 4th October: Salisbury-Winchester is an east-west route so hopefully the prevailing wind will be behind us. I shall need to take the gradients into account as well, even though Scotland has been good preparation for that. I shall plan to reconnoitre at least part of the route during September.

Wednesday 2nd September. A nice cool London day and I was able to get round my standard 4 mile course through woods and parks as fast as I have ever managed. That was a great relief as I found that I really struggled on a 2-hour run on Monday. It was much hotter then, and I covered about 11 miles, but I think that I was also short of sleep. One never quite knows how one is going to do, but it is certainly worth taking rest and nutrition seriously. I also need to think about hydration, and must remember to have plenty to drink at the start of the marathon. It was salutary to remember that the marathon is more than twice as long as my 11 mile run.
Adrian Thomas

Monday, 17 August 2009

Help Needed Now

In July Alan and I attended a meeting of five of the eight Together for Sudan Trustees, an unofficial meeting at a hotel in London’s Heathrow airport. The purpose was to discuss the funding difficulty into which Together for Sudan has been plunged by the current international financial recession. TfS Treasurer Norman Swanney laid out the situation: unless there is a dramatic upsurge in untied funds-- i.e. donations not ear marked for a particular project – TfS will be in dire straits by the end of this year. Essentially, this shocking situation has come about due to two difficulties: 1) the inability of several of our long term institutional partners to continue to support us and 2) the rising costs of operating our two offices in Khartoum and Kadugli.

As you can imagine, TfS Trustees are deeply concerned and asking all our supporters who can afford to do so to come to our assistance. Meanwhile, although we are already low budget, we are reducing costs in both the Khartoum and Kadugli offices and that, sadly, may entail closing one of the offices and reducing personnel . Meanwhile, although the situation remains uncertain we are determined to survive for the sake of the women and children we serve. What more can be done?

Together for Sudan is in process of registering an American charity – “Friends Together for Sudan” – which will raise funds for Together for Sudan. But clearance through US sanctions against transfer of funds to Sudan will likely take several more weeks, if not months. And what we need is more funding now.

Together for Sudan is not a religious charity. But, from the time it began, both Muslims and Christians have recognized that this is a work of grace. Otherwise how could we have accomplished so much on such a relatively small budget? One of our highest objectives has always been to bring Muslims and Christians into service to one another, a much needed form of peacemaking.

TfS Trustees and Patrons are dedicated to continuing an educational work which over the past decade has benefitted thousands of Sudanese, most of them displaced and disadvantaged women and children. It is an enormous privilege to serve the Sudanese people and we hope to continue.

But we need your support. You can make a donation on line at http://www.togetherforsudan.org/ by downloading Bankers Orders or Gift Aid forms. Or you can send a cheque payable to Together for Sudan to 33 Balmoral Road, Trowbridge, Wiltshire BA14 OJS. UK. Please note that all US dollar cheques need to be made out to the" Bishop Mubarak Fund "

Lillian Craig-Harris

Three Weeks Later

It is three weeks since I last reported so time to give an update on how my preparations for the marathon are progressing.

I have kept to a steady training schedule with distances gradually increasing. This afternoon I did a twelve-mile run which has left me quite weary. I feel that I have a long way to go before I shall be capable of running twice that distance but it is reassuring at least to be able to keep a steady pace for two hours.

I am still in Aberdeenshire and my current training route is along the upper reaches of the River Gairn. These days it is a remote and deserted area, but in many places one can see ruined farms and lodges. There used to be a strong community here with a school, chapel and shops, but it was a hard life. Poverty drove the people away, and now there are only sheep, grouse, deer, hares and birds. The harsh conditions inevitably prompt comparisons with Sudan. Ultimately most of Scotland’s displaced people achieved a more prosperous life – will the same be true for the Sudanese? Perhaps, but like all people in transition they will need support.

Adrian Thomas

Sunday, 26 July 2009

My Marathon Task - Adrian Thomas

My name is Adrian and I am going to run a marathon to raise funds for Together for Sudan.

I have just completed the Ballater 10 mile road race. That is definitely a milestone in my training programme, though it’s still less than 40% of the marathon distance. The good news though is that I enjoyed the Ballater run and did not feel too exhausted at the end. It was not a stellar performance – I was 128th out of 188 runners, but most were a good deal younger than me!

I have been quite active over the last few weeks with visits to the Pyrenees and Alps. Walking at altitude should have been good for my lung capacity and endurance and the challenge is to maintain that. We are spending most of July and August in Scotland and I have been running every couple of days since I got back from Switzerland on 18th July. The moorland tracks are fine places to practise for running the cross-country course from Salisbury to Winchester.

I have discovered one particularly well maintained track on the nearby Balmoral estate. It is enjoyable running with good views and pure air, but being in such a privileged place does provide a real contrast to the heat, dust and poverty that is the lot of so many people in Sudan. I only hope that I shall get the support I need and that I will be able to raise enough to contribute in some small way to improving things there.

I now have 10 weeks left until the marathon on 4th October, which should be just long enough to build up my performance, but I shall have to work hard at it. I may enter another race to provide a target for improvement, and I will continue to report on how things progress. I'm making a Just Giving page for this run but you can always give anytime through the TFS website, see this link - www.togetherforsudan.org/donations.htm

Adrian Thomas

Friday, 10 July 2009

Women's Literacy Project

One of the most important means to empower displaced and destitute women is through education because this will help them towards a brighter future. The Women’s Literacy Project actually began in 1997 even before Together for Sudan itself officially began. What happened was that a Sudanese Episcopal priest working with displaced people in squatter settlements told two or three groups of women outside Omdurman to set up classes and Dr. Lillian would pay the teachers salaries! Although he had not consulted her, she felt she had to do it! Since then TfS has graduated over 2,500 women from its literacy classes and in 2007 & 2008 trained 52 teachers in the REFLECT literacy method.

Women’s literacy classes were sometime later set up in the Kadugli area of the Nuba Mountains and nearly 200 women have graduated from three centres there in 2009. Most recently Together for Sudan expanded the project to El Fasher in Northern Darfur where we have trained 14 women as literacy teachers. Despite the difficult circumstances, two classes have been set up. So Together for Sudan has been a pioneer in the field of women’s literacy.
From my point of view as a literacy monitor, the Women’s Literacy Project is significant for building peace and community reconciliation and in empowering women.

In February this year I participated in a workshop in Gadarif in the east of Sudan at which the Director of the National Council for Illiteracy Eradication, Dr. Abdelhafiz, described Together for Sudan as an “unrecognized fighter for humanity”. He said that he appreciated the role of TfS due to its effective efforts to eradicate illiteracy among displaced women. I hope that Together for Sudan will be able to continue this vital project despite the present funding difficulties.

Saudi Abdelrahman
TfS Officer Manager, Khartoum

Vocational Training Project

In 2008 Together for Sudan started to offer vocational scholarships to young men as well as young women from the settlements for displaced persons and to those from disadvantaged backgrounds. This was our first offer of education to males other than children in basic school. In its first year this project, funded by the Gordon Memorial College Trust Fund, sponsored eleven young men to study general electricity, automobile electricity, general mechanics and air conditioning. Four scholars who were on a one year course graduated and some of them wrote letters of appreciation to express how they have benefitted from TfS support and how this support has changed their lives.

Even in its first year the vocational project was highly popular with young men and their families because those trained are able to acquire professional jobs. In June and July 2009 I have received many telephone calls from young men and their parents asking TfS to sponsor them for vocational training. Sadly, our funding for this project has run out due to the international financial upheaval. I wish I could find a donor to continue this vital project which is currently inactive.

Saudi AbdelrahamTfS Office Manager Khartoum

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Another Visit to Sudan

My evening flight from Washington Dulles to London on 3 May was followed by a six hour layover after which I flew on to Khartoum via Beirut, in total 22 hours of travelling. British Ambassador Rosalind Marsden, Together for Sudan Trustee and my long suffering hostess for the next two weeks, kindly sent a car to pick me up at the Khartoum airport by which time it was early morning of 5 May local time. I managed four hours sleep before Country Coordinator Neimat Hussein showed up for several hours of briefing and discussion. Despite the exhaustion I was, as always, exhilarated to be back in Sudan. And I am, of course, very grateful to Neimat and her colleagues in both Khartoum and Kadugli for putting up with my bi-annual fact finding missions which are very disruptive of their work!
Over the next several days Neimat and I did the rounds of local patrons and partners and international funding charities, thanking those which support Together for Sudan and seeking new partnerships. I also spend hours in the TfS Khartoum office talking to staff members and receiving visitors including Dr. Nabila Radi who runs our Eye Care Outreach. I have learned to love and sometimes to resist Dr. Nabila because she knows that those who “look on suffering” with the intention of helping are often greatly blessed and therefore usually insists that I go with her to visit those who are dying, diseased, deformed by leprosy or otherwise in a position to teach me more about compassion. I’ve learned a lot from her.

Another highlight of my Khartoum visit was attending the graduation of 127 Community Health Care Workers, over 100 of them women, in a makeshift tent in one of the settlements for the displaced outside Khartoum. When the Sudanese are happy they dance – and we did, celebrating the graduates’ new ability to contribute to their communities as well as support themselves and their children.
This visit was dominated by opposition from the government’s Humanitarian Affairs Commission (HAC) to my planned visit to the TfS sub-office in Kadugli, capital of the Nuba Mountains in Southern Kordofan. But after several days delay, which required that I extend my stay in Sudan, and having written a letter of apology for obtaining my visa from the Sudanese Embassy in Washington rather than from HAC (!), I was eventually allowed to travel to Kadugli. I am enormously grateful to TfS Office Manager Saudi Abdel Rahman for the hours he spend at HAC headquarters and the patience which he displayed.
When finally allowed to fly to the Nuba Mountains, Neimat and I spent four days in Kadugli getting to know Field Representative Ibrahim Ahmed Jabir and Field Coordinator Saleem Musa, both new employees since my last visit to Kadugli in early 2008. I was delighted to see how well they are working together. We arrived to find 25 community leaders, 10 of them women, from the countryside outside Kadugli engrossed in a course in Primary Health Care. All are members of “development committees” in their home areas. Neimat and I called on the Ministries of Health and Education where we were warmly greeted and asked to expand our training of teachers and community workers. At the Kadugli Hospital we were thanked for the TfS Eye Care Outreach which has resulted in the opening of an Ophthalmology Centre there. (The newly hired ophthalmologist was in Khartoum trying to raise money to run the centre!) Other highlights of the visit were visiting some of the now more than 30 young women put through university by TfS who are now back in the Nuba Mountains as teachers, health workers and government and INGO employees. As always, I felt blessed to be part of a growing work which is helping hundreds of individuals improve their lives. For further information see the June Together for Sudan Newsletter.

Lillian Craig-Harris

Friday, 22 May 2009

Website Updated

The Together for Sudan website has been updated and is now more accurate and relevant than before. Most of the updates are in the project areas although there are some in the About Us section. The home page has been refreshed with a clever rotating display of our new web banners. These link directly to the Together for Sudan project work that is so vital. All of the banners can be displayed from your website or blog - why not download one. We would really appreciate your support.

- Webmaster

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Another Visit To Sudan

On Sunday, 3 May, I leave Virginia for Sudan, arriving in Khartoum at 3:15 a.m. on 5 May after a several hour stopover in London. Like many people, I endure rather than enjoy long flights and always find it near impossible to sleep. On these at least twice yearly visits, I bring along a good book or two and also use the time to mull over the work ahead. Usually I don’t talk much to my seatmates as most people find it hard to understand why anyone would voluntarily go to Sudan. So it would be too complicated to tell them that this is my 23rd return since I was expelled in late 1998.

This time I’ll spend a few days in Kadugli, the capital of Southern Kordofan, in order to monitor TfS educational and educational support projects, talk to government officials and meet the two new staff members in our four person office. I’ll also call on representatives of other charities and UN agencies with which we cooperate. And every night I’ll eat either beans or bread and peanut butter (this latter carried in by me) for supper. Although life in Kadugli is now even more expensive than Khartoum, there is little food in the area and many people are chronically hungry. But sitting after dark in the street market with the generators roaring in the background is always a magical experience, a feeling of solidarity with an “end of the earth” place where human needs are enormous and anything you can do is appreciated.

In Khartoum, where I’ll spend most of my time, life is much more up market. There are grand hotels and restaurants, most very recent, embassies and high rise buildings and too much traffic. I’ll spend a lot of time in the Together for Sudan office with our nine employees and even more time battling traffic to call on potential funders including embassies and international organizations. I’ll attend an Eye Care Outreach and the graduation of our first group of public health trainees in the IDP settlements and have meetings with some of our Sudanese Patrons. And I’ll do a bit of office encouragement and management and catch up with friends. After midnight on 14 May I’ll board a flight for London and then another for the US, chasing the sun, so that it will still be 14 May when I arrive in Virginia. I’m always both sad and relieved to leave Sudan – a country whose diverse people are very kind and hospitable and captured my heart over a decade ago.

Lillian Craig-Harris

Monday, 13 April 2009

Eye Care Outreach and Blindness Prevention in the Khartoum Area Squatter Settlements

The Khartoum office is busy churning out reports these days and another which I read this week filled me with particular satisfaction. What can you say about a project which prevents blindness, restores sight, enables people to learn to read and helps unite people in service to one another?

Up to three million people now live in the settlements for displaced persons which surround the increasingly modern city of Khartoum. The majority have no access to education, health care or secure livelihood.

In 2002 Together for Sudan set up an Eye Care Outreach Project led by Sudanese ophthalmologist Dr. Nabila Radi. Targeting children, women and the elderly, that effort has now benefitted well over 25,000 people through eye examinations, eye glasses, medications and eye surgeries. The Eye Care Outreach is a particularly satisfactory sort of charity work because its benefits are so quickly obvious. After all, if you can’t see you are unlikely to learn to read and glasses can usually fix that problem. Or put another way, if you have ever misplaced your glasses (as I do regularly) or have suffered from an eye infection or other condition which threatens or impeded your sight --- well, we all get the point.

This latest Eye Care Project report reminded me that TfS has learned many lessons from our work in this area. Among the most important are that eye disease and eye injury are two of the greatest threats to health and livelihood in the settlements for the displaced, that community cooperation is crucial to the outreach and that provision of eye care information to communities is vital.

A simple pair of glasses can provide a mother with the ability to sew and thus to support her children. Eye glasses can restore meaning to life. I recall a recent outreach when an old man, practically weeping with gratitude, thought to thank me for the gift of a used pair of reading glasses. I rejoice that this project does so much good and earns so much goodwill for Together for Sudan.

Lillian Craig-Harris

Training Teachers to Train Other Teachers in the Nuba Mountains

This week I read a report from the TfS office in Khartoum about teaching teachers to become trainers of other teachers in the Nuba Mountains of Southern Kordofan. That ought to be simple because Nuba people are clamouring for education of all sorts. But life in the Nuba Mountains is difficult for many reasons and this time we came up against the weather when delay in a funding transfer took us into the July to October rainy season.

When it rains in the Nuba Mountains everyone and everything bogs down; even tractors are often unable to get through the mud. So training had to be rescheduled for November/December 2008 when 25 kindergarten teachers, all women, were finally taught training techniques, administrative skills, preparation and use of teaching aids, how to identify possibly useful materials, etc. This may sound simple to those who have enjoyed the benefits of well equipped schools and university trained teachers. And so it is: simple, effective and efficient. So efficient, as the report revealed, that two months after the training some of the participants had already set themselves up as teacher trainers and were teaching other teachers how to become teacher trainers.

Things don’t usually happen this quickly in Sudan and the reports writer in our Khartoum office allowed himself a bit of rather unrestrained rejoicing. The impact of the training was, he said, “good news”, in fact it was “a triumph for the people of the Nuba Mountains”, as well as “a milestone to our endeavor to upgrade education in the region” and “a beginning which makes us hopeful that more work will follow”. Well, that sums up fairly well how I feel, too.

Lillian Craig-Harris

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Banners to Download from our Website

Once again the website has been updated and now includes downloadable banner images. These are designed to link back to our site. We would be very grateful for the support of anyone displaying a banner on their website or blogsite. All the images on the banner download page are of work that TFS does and are coupled to a word that defines an aspect of what we do and you could join in with. Please display one and show your support for our work. I placed the hope banner on the blog and put two here to show you what our banners look like.

Check the rest out on our website. With this link - Banner download page - Webmaster.

Together for Sudan Care Banner

Together for Sudan Vision Banner

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Shedding Light on Solar Panel Issues

The TfS Solar Project continues to have difficulties in the Nuba Mountains due both to its great popularity and to unfamiliarity with the need to keep even simple equipment maintained. The project is, in fact, so popular that panels on schools, clinics and community centres have to be closely monitored least they change location or disappear completely. One recent incident involving a “replanting” of the panel was followed by great consternation when the apparatus did not simply turn itself on and provide the thieves with light! More seriously it is a nuisance that, as a very grass roots charity, we own no vehicles. Let me know if you can recommend a Kadugli area organization or individual able to volunteer use of a four wheel drive for a few hours a week. TfS will pay for the petrol and hundreds of “enlightened” people will pour blessings on the car owner’s head!

Lillian Craig-Harris

Activity in Khartoum and Kadugli Offices

Country Coordinator Neimat Hussein is on well-earned holiday from mid-March to mid-April and Deputy Country Coordinator Victor Gali Thomas is in charge of the office. Consequently, I am working through Victor, an energetic and committed southern Sudanese whom I met many years ago while living in Khartoum. The mixture of Sudanese from several areas of Sudan enriches our Khartoum office and allows me insights into a variety of Sudanese cultures. I always feel it a privilege to work with Sudanese so deeply committed to educating women and children. Since Alan and I were obliged to leave in 1999, I have been back to Sudan 21 times and plan to visit both Khartoum and Kadugli again in May. Each return to Sudan is a joyful reunion.

In the past few days the Khartoum office has concentrated on an application to the European Union (EU) for funding for our Teacher Training and Support Project in the Khartoum area and Nuba Mountains. This is probably the most difficult funding application we have ever worked on. If successful, our application to the EU will allow TfS to continue our Teacher Training and Support Project by training up to 660 teachers over a three year period and providing them with small “incentives” during a subsequent period of monitoring. In TfS experience, such gratuities have often allowed displaced people living in squatter areas to keep open the self help basic schools which they set up for their children. This is an area in which Together for Sudan has been a pioneer. We are also hoping to ask the EU for funding for ongoing training of our office staff, another necessity as the work expands and becomes more complicated.

The Khartoum office and I have also been busy recently working with a request from the Mohamed Ibrahim Foundation (MIF) for further information about our university scholars. MIF is one of three major contributors to TfS’s flagship project, the University Scholars Project (the other contributors are the UK Department for International Development and the Gordon Memorial College Trust Fund). And now the MIF offers us an opportunity on their impending website. Dr. Mohamed and his wife Dr. Hania Fadl, both TfS Patrons, inspire all who know them.

Our Kadugli office is still settling down following a major turnover of employees in recent months. TfS Field Coordinator, Saleem Musa Agoaf is supported by an assistant field coordinator, an office guard and a cleaner – and is showing signs of being a natural for the job. The Khartoum office knows that I am happy when accurate and timely reports keep coming in and Saleem seems well able to fit in with this requirement. TfS plans another Eye Care Outreach in April which will target some one thousand people, for the majority of whom it will be the first time they have been examined by a doctor of any sort. Dr. Nabila Radi, a saintly ophthalmologist, will travel to Kadugli from Khartoum once again and has offered to sleep in the office to save money.

We’ll see about that.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Web Site Updated

Once again the website for our charity has been updated and includes more stuff. Mainly this time around it's documents including the latest Financial Report and Annual Trustees Report. The really big change though is the Latest News page which has now got a grid style design filled with little news snippets. We are doing so much now as a charity that the old style page just could not cope. Each snippet leads to a bigger article and the cleverest thing is that the grid design allows us to pop news in easily and simply.
Together for Sudan is a dynamic and growing charity that is doing more and more, and is ever in need of funds to support it's work in Sudan. By providing better access to what we are doing we hope to encourage our supporters and web visitors to support us as we continue to grow. Check out the website now if you have not yet seen it, all visitors are welcome. www.togetherforsudan.org


Monday, 16 February 2009

Annual Report & Accounts 2008

Success! On 12 Feb 09 I submitted the TFS Annual Report & Accounts for 2008 to the Charity Commission of England & Wales, following the publication's approval by the Trustees on the previous day. After a nerve-racking couple of days while the Commission gave the Report & Accounts the once over it was eventually published on the CC website (go to www.charity-commission.gov.uk and enter our registered number 1075852 to see). The time limit for posting accounts etc is 31 Oct 09 but by posting so early we show people - supporters, partners, auditors, authorities and the casual reader that we continue to be a responsible and well run charity which takes its responsibilities for openness and accountability seriously.