Saturday, 17 December 2011


People often want to know how Together for Sudan began. The answer is that TfS was born in Sudan following a request for help from Sudanese women. But what, people ask next, is Together for Sudan accomplishing? And does it work?

These questions are on target and usually result in those of us who know Together for Sudan beginning to speak all at once. It’s true that working in Sudan can be difficult due to the enormous needs of the people, the size of the country, extreme climate and increasingly difficult travel regulations for foreigners. Then there are the many requests for medical, financial and other help which are beyond our mandate, to say nothing of our limited means.

From time to time bureaucracy, misunderstanding and delay have turned into the “Are we really getting anywhere?” feeling, especially when the work which our Sudanese colleagues are doing has been impeded. But that doesn’t last long when we remember what Together for Sudan has accomplished, how we have developed through the years and the opportunities which lie ahead. Finding ourselves now on the verge of starting work in South Sudan as well as continuing in the north, I shake my head and wonder at the audacity — and the privilege — of it all. Working with women to help other women is what TfS is about.

My response to the question “Why Sudan?” is that I was living in Khartoum in the mid 1990s, a time of great neglect of the Sudanese people by the international community, when a group of Muslim women invited me to set up peace dialogue between northern and southern women. About this same time a Christian mother in the Nuba Mountains asked me to put her daughter through university and I agreed to do so because several people, some of them unknown to me, had helped me through university. The work which is TfS grew from those small beginnings, changing many times along the way but always listening to what Sudanese women say they need most: education for themselves and their children. More broadly, what Sudanese women need most – and this is true in both Sudan and South Sudan – is a hand up rather than a hand-out. They can take it from there.

The first project in the work known today as Together for Sudan was University Scholarships for Women. Since then TfS has sent some 200 women through universities in Sudan and currently has 154 women at universities in Sudan and South Sudan. In the late 1990s a number of projects, including a mobile library, a listening service for suicidal and despairing people and a women’s centre, flowered and faded for various reasons.

At present TfS has eight projects, most urgently in need of funding. In addition to University Scholarships for Women, Women’s Literacy Classes, HIV/AIDS Awareness Outreach and Eye Care Outreach, there are also Vocational TrainingScholarships for HIV/AID Affected Children and Solar Lighting Panels for schools,clinics and community centers off the electricity grid. May I ask you to choose one of these projects – perhaps one related to help given to you at a time of need – and send us a cheque? There is joy in sharing!

Lillian Craig Harris

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Dear Friends

In recent months there have been major developments in both Together for Sudan’s work and in Sudan
itself. We remain Muslims and Christians working together in service to the poor and dispossessed, women and children in particular. But Sudan’s recent transformation into the Republic of Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan presents us with both difficulties and opportunities. Thousands of southerners living in the north have returned to their home areas and our office in Khartoum has been hard hit. Former Deputy Country Coordinator Victor and former TfS Accountant Minallah are among the thousands of people now living in Juba, capital of South Sudan, many with no proper housing or employment. Meanwhile, a significant number of Together for Sudan university scholars have left the north and re-registered at Juba University, hoping that Together for Sudan can continue to support them.

Arriving in Khartoum in early October, TfS Secretary Alan Goulty and I knew —despite the present TfS funding deficit – that we must answer the question “Should we expand our work to South Sudan?” During a brief visit to Juba, we called on contacts at Juba University, the Episcopal church and various international and local organizations. It was not, however, until we visited a recently set up organization dealing with HIV/AIDS awareness that I realized how well prepared TfS is to work in South Sudan. Editha, former leader of our HIV/AIDS Awareness Outreach in the Khartoum area, is now in Juba and eager to be re employed by TfS – as are Victor and Minallah.

Together for Sudan’s roots go back to a small group of Muslim and Christian women who sought to bring understanding and peace between the two religions and, seeing the number of minarets as well as churches in Juba, I decided that TfS will be right at home there.

With your support we can continue our work in Khartoum and environs and also begin work in South Sudan. To start with, we hope to find funding for more university scholarships as well as for women’s literacy classes and HIV/AIDS outreach. And already the indefatigable Dr. Nabila Radi who heads the TfS Eye Care Outreach in the Khartoum area is talking about an outreach to the South Sudan city of Wau.
November 2011

Lillian Craig Harris