Kids for Kids
Providing Hope for Women and Children in Sudan
Reading Time: 5 minutes
Never underestimate the ability of one person to make a difference. That’s what Englishwoman Patricia Parker did over 20 years ago when visiting her son, a foreign diplomat in Khartoum, the capital of the Republic of Sudan in Africa.
Patricia had been active in many charities in England, so when the director of Save the Children invited her to learn more about the plight of women and children in Darfur, a volatile region in the western part of the country, she eagerly accepted the offer.
“On our journey, we encountered a nine-year-old boy walking alone in the blistering heat of the desert,” she explained. “I was shocked to hear this was a regular task, trekking seven hours each way to fetch water for his family. It was a dangerous situation for anyone because of the ongoing warfare in the region and the possibility of being attacked or kidnapped. We wanted to help him and learn more about his situation. Why did he have to travel so far for a small amount of water when Darfur has the largest underground water reservoir in Africa?”
Patricia soon learned the family lived in desperate poverty, with no access to water or nutritional food. They were huddled together in a deplorable hut among hordes of other women in children — left alone to fend for themselves while fathers and older sons were fighting the ongoing civil war between the people of Darfur and the government of Sudan. Violence and despair continue to be everyday occurrences, ravaging the region with constant fear. It was a precarious attempt to visit the boy’s mother waiting for his return, but instinct spurred Patricia on to investigate.
“Initially, I thought if I raised enough money, we could build a hand pump to access water near this boy’s refugee camp, but then I realized we could do more. The family had three little goats that provided milk and nourishment for the boy and his siblings. Imagine if others could also have their own goats and access to fresh water? It could change lives and sustain these deserving women and children. I knew I had to do something!”
Patricia will undoubtedly say what transpired next was accomplished because of many caring individuals. Still, she was the one who witnessed a dire situation and planted the seeds of hope by forming a non-profit organization to help alleviate unimaginable hardships endured by families struggling to survive in remote villages in the barren desertland of Darfur.
Instead of a carefree vacation visiting her son, Patricia planned and began contacting individuals in England, Sudan, and other countries. It took a bit of time and legwork, but soon Kids for Kids was established with a mission statement that continues to ring true today: “We don’t believe in charity — we believe in helping people to help themselves.”
The main focus with Kids for Kids is their goat program, where five regional does are loaned to a family, along with one buck shared between three families, providing milk for the children and forming the nucleus of a little flock. Dairy goats in Sudan are primarily Nubian, Desert, Nilotic and Taggar breeds.
After two years, the women pass on five kids to another family in need. It’s an ongoing program involving more goats and villagers annually. It’s also an opportunity for the women to learn about generating an income by selling milk and yogurt.
Kids for Kids also provides donkeys for transport, chickens for eggs to feed the family, hand-pumps, and jerrycans for water, donkey carts, mosquito nets, blankets, mattresses, household utensils, soap, medical and school supplies, farm tools, and seeds to plant drought-resistant native trees for shade and fruit. One tree, the fast-growing moringa, produces edible leaves, providing a great vitamin C and potassium source as a dried herb and tea. It’s also used as fodder for the goats, helping increase milk content and yield.
The organization has a field office in Al-Fashir, the capital city of North Darfur, with a program manager, project coordinator, steering committee, and a team of dedicated volunteers who help train and guide the villagers.
Kids for Kids adopts a village where the organization nurtures and guides the women and children. To date, there are now 106 villages. It’s one thing to receive a flock of goats, donkeys, and other vital items for survival, but the program would fail without proper knowledge and training. So, ongoing sessions in paravet training are paramount — designed for individuals working with animals, but without any formal training in animal husbandry. Each family learns about goat health issues, nutritional needs, milking production, making yogurt, cleanliness, safety and shelter concerns, and caring for pregnant does and newborns.
The villagers also learn about the donkeys’ health issues and how to efficiently use them in a region without any roads, working with them to transport water, firewood, and supplies. The sturdy animals are also used as a local “school bus,” carting youngsters to school, a donkey ambulance when someone is ill or injured, and harnessed to a walking plow for tilling the ground for planting.
The team of volunteers also conducts ongoing sessions about human health and hygiene issues, proper nutrition, first aid, and midwife training. It’s a well-rounded program that believes in communication and relationships, letting the families know they aren’t alone.
For Patricia, it’s always been about making a connection with others. Imagine her delight in reuniting with Ibrahim, the young boy who inspired her long ago. She and her son had tried to meet up with him many times, but danger lurks in every direction. In 2005 they were both kidnapped by rebel forces but miraculously released a day later.
“ It was a frightening experience,” she recalls, “especially remembering another raid in 2003 that lead to the death of 300,00 people. But, I wasn’t going to let it stop me from our work or getting to see Brahmani again. We waited until tensions calmed and finally made it to his village of Um’Gal. There he was, a handsome young man, standing six feet tall, surrounded by a loving family and their flock of goats. He has carried the torch, helping his village and people survive. Because of Brahmani, that little boy traipsing through the desert in search of water, over 550,000 people have been allowed to help themselves lead a better life!”
Kids for Kids continues to reach out and connect with families faraway in Darfur — one goat at a time. Donations are greatly appreciated. For more information: www.kidsforkids.org.uk firstname.lastname@example.org
Originally published in the September/October 2021 issue of Goat Journal and regularly vetted for accuracy.