Sudan and what was to become the separate country of South Sudan have suffered enormously since civil war began between the two regions back in 1955. However, the SVP (set up in Sudan in 1939) has played a central role in improving the situation for people of both countries over the past decades.
Betram Kuol, Programme Manager for the SVP in South Sudan recently visited London to give a presentation on the many SVP projects that are both saving and changing lives for the better in Sudan and South Sudan.
Betram spoke of the political situation in the two countries, the friction and rivalry between governments and ethnic tribes caused by problems as varied as religious diversity and oil and mineral extraction by Sudan on the borders between the two countries.
He also inspired SVP members and staff present by speaking of the extensive project work being done to heal the fractured communities in Sudan and South Sudan. Projects such as baby feeding programmes are preventing malnourished babies from dying of starvation and providing food for as many as 10,000 children every day. Other projects mentioned include vocational training centres for young people previously attracted into rebel and government armies by the promise of a daily meal. These vocational training centres teach skills and trades that enable young people to contribute to the development and restoration of their country’s infrastructure.
Healthcare is essential to saving lives and the SVP in Sudan and South Sudan runs clinics, both mobile and static, providing access to medicines and healthcare professionals in remote areas.
Microfinance projects, funded by the SVP allow local people to invest in livelihood projects such as poultry farming, herbal medicine cultivation, animal husbandry and so gain produce that can be sold for an income.
In both Sudan and South Sudan where women are often denied the same educational opportunities as men, Betram explained that the SVP has been providing young women with training in tailoring, cookery and even construction work. The outcome is independence from the pressure to marry in order to bring economic security for their families. Instead young women are equipped with skills and so can develop a trade, business and earn a living.
All of these SVP programmes, and many more are made possible by the generous donations of SVP members and the public. In the coming weeks we will be writing more about Sudan and South Sudan, and how the SVP is saving lives once torn apart by war.