Second Khartoum visit, Nov – Dec 2010
1. To evaluate the first visit by Zeinab Burma and Maimona Ismali 22 July to 19 August 2010;
2. To give further courses in women’s empowerment to the three founding groups of Darfuri women;
3. To start business plans to make and sell garments with sewing machines donated by an anonymous lady pensioner in Edinburgh in order to generate income for the groups.
Before I travelled I had a mixed feelings; feeling fear of not achieving what I was assigned to do and with uncertainty and various expectations, despite all the training and courses and my own experiences, formal and informal..
was assigned to do and with uncertainty and various expectations, despite all the training and courses and my own experiences, formal and informal..
When I arrived in Khartoum I first contacted Mrs Khadiga Hussein of Sudanese Mothers for Peace who promptly agreed to a meeting on the Monday the 15th of November 2010 at 6.00pm in her house and made me more comfortable and welcome. I was happy that I will be supported in achieving my goals for VODW. We discussed the previous visit and we planned our work for the three groups at their widely dispersed locations namely:-.
- AlHassien in Khartoum
- Alhaj Yossif in Buhri
- Alfatah in Omdurman.
We agreed to meet the Mothers for Peace volunteers in their office to discuss a plan of action. We also agreed to facilitate one or two workshops in the Mothers for Peace office in Khartoum for the group leaders and some volunteers on how to run an organisation and how to make a business plan for small projects.
We also discussed the donation of the three sewing machines and how best they could be utilised and it was agreed to wait till we visited the groups to establish the groups’ interests and to seek their views in the matter and organise accordingly.
AlHag Yossif in Buhri
This is a very well organised and established group. Their leader, Zaineab, is a qualified Teacher and very committed and she tends to come to our office meeting after finishing her teaching (after work). There are many educated women in this group – some are qualified midwives and some are qualified teachers, all from Darfur.
The group meet in a private school with the support of the school head master and the school teachers and would have store for the safekeeping of a sewing machine..
We met the group in the school – we provided light refreshments – Tea coffee biscuits and sweet. It was attended by 15 women, some of them are new attendees.
Mrs Khadiga Hussein introduced me to the group and she explained to the group the purpose of the visit – to help to give women a voice to better their future.
The group have reported very positively about the first visit by our two volunteers ( Zeinab Burma and Maimona Ismail) and how they were appreciative of the support and the training they had received from them.
They discussed their problems and recommended training to lead to employment such as training to be midwives or accredited IT training which will lead them into employment and many other problems that we were not personally fitted to solve. However, we discussed ways forward and reminded them that we were there to help them how to help themselves and the issues involved.
They have been assisted by Mothers for Peace and Zienab and Maimona to make proposals for Micro-Finance arrangements for different projects – but, unfortunately, due to the political situation of Sudan now, this is difficult to materialise as some donors are hesitating in putting any money in Sudan until the political situation is stabilised. In addition, the Family Bank will only gives grants/loans to Government Supporters – and obviously – Darfuri women are not Supporters.
Alfatah in Omdurman.
Alfatah is a very far place in Omdurman – it took us two and half hour to drive from the Office of Mothers For Peace. The entire Group are Darfuri Women and they live below the poverty line in difficult circumstances.
The visit was facilitated by a male volunteer who supports the women’s group – we call him Um Jaffer. We provided light refreshments such as tea and coffees and biscuits and sweet for the participants. There were 10 participants from the group (All are Darfuri Women) in addition to two volunteers from the Mothers for Peace – Khadija Hussein and the treasurer for Mothers for Peace and myself. We hired a minibus to take all of us to the meeting place.
The level of education for this group is very low as most of them cannot read or write – some are working and some are housewives but it is important that we reach down to the grass-roots. Two of them are making Imam (male scarves) and Tawagi (Male Hats) so a sewing machine will be very useful to them.
Again, their views focussed on support for income generation such as making garments for sale and buying a machine for mixing the peanuts for sale in the village as residents tend to be reliant on the village market due to the very far distance from the central shopping areas.
Alhassien in Khartoum
We met this group in The Mothers for Peace office and three leaders have attended the workshops on how to set up an organisation and how to make a business plan for small projects with Micro Finance on the 30 of November 2010 in the SMP Office which has email and other facilities so I left a mini netbook with them.
Conclusion and Recommendations
The Three groups indicated that they have a very big trust in us and the Mothers for Peace and their volunteers. The group will receive regular feed back from Mothers for Peace and are highly appreciative of the support and assistance. They used to be very sceptical of visits from outside but they now appreciate the work from the SMP and the Voice of Darfur Women in London and the two visits. I am in contact with them by email.I recommend raising funds by the Voice for Darfur Women and their members to support these groups and it is not that expensive to guarantee small projects (equivalent to the English pound) as it helps in empowering the women.
Their income generation is the power that supports the groups to learn how to train themselves to have a voice in the communities.I conclude that I am very grateful to be given this opportunity which enhanced my skills and knowledge and motivate me more and more. Special thanks are due to Ray Newton and Khadiga Hussein for their continuous support and guidance here in the UK and in Khartoum.
I hope that next year in 2011 further progress will be made despite all the difficulties. Everybody is welcome to discuss all the details of this report on 8 January and also how we can move on from here in 2011 with our three-year plan with its ambitious aims.
Ekhlas Ahmed, December 2010
Myself (second from the right) discussing the business plan problems of organisation, 30 Nov.