Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 5, 2005
Edmonton's Sudanese help their homeland
Volunteer group raises funds to help suffering war-torn populace
By BILL GLEN
"This is about Christians working together with one heart and one love."
- David Faling
Under the peace agreement, the south will have a six-year interim period of self-rule. Then, it will vote in a referendum on whether to remain part of Sudan.
SRDS plans to use the first anniversary of the peace accord to formally launch its fundraising campaign.
The Rotary Club is working closely with SRDS to help with the effort.
"We will be announcing a multi-year, fundraising campaign on behalf of Sudcan," said David Faling, an Edmonton architect and Rotarian. While details are sketchy at the moment, the organization is looking at a mini-nation soccer tournament/benefit concert next summer in Edmonton.
"There are big problems in Africa and this is a campaign to provide relief to all people from Sudan - whether they are Christian or Muslim or in the camps in Kenya, Gulu or Ethiopia. This is about Christians working together with one heart and one love."
Through the Rotary Club, Faling has volunteered to help several African nations in Edmonton. He was willing to help SRDS because of its lack of individualism.
"It's universal," he said.
The vast majority of the 72,000 refugees in Kakuma refugee camp in northwest Kenya are from southern Sudan. There are 23 primary schools, three secondary schools and five pre-schools, but teachers are from within the refugee group.
Funds gathered by the Rotary Club and other organizations will go directly to agencies like Sudan Aid and the Sudan Council of Churches, circumventing government interference.
"We are to help southern Sudan and other regions, if we are capable of doing it," Garang said.
Because aid is often viewed as a weapon by those offering it, SRDS has an open policy to help all Sudanese. Displacement camps in the capital city of Khartoum and in small southern communities contain several faiths, including Christians and Muslims. SRDS aims to help them all.
"They are all suffering," said Sabina John. "Christians claim to be Muslim just so they will receive clothing, food and shelter from the northern government. In Sudan, if you are Muslim and you are black, you are not recognized as a Muslim brother. In a way, just because we are black, we are forced to suffer for whatever the ruling government's reasons."
Growing up in the African bush, John said many of her people have never seen a town. They do not know what it is like to switch on a light, let alone turn a tap for hot water. But they do know and love God. When the ecumenical council of churches in Africa advised Christians to unite as one body during the war, they defended their beliefs.
"Many priests died in jail during the civil war having defended the spirit of early Christian missionaries who believed that saving Africans from slavery was to educate them to become self-reliant," she said.
"We have a lot of seminaries. Sudan has many local priests and nuns. I think the dream became true that Africans must save Africa."
Small Catholic schools are struggling to be built. Fresh water wells are slowly being drilled. NGOs generally provide the necessities, but the northern government still controls the distribution - often falsely claiming responsibility for the provisions.
Medicine and education supplies are woefully substandard. Tools to rebuild homes and community infrastructure are virtually non-existent.
Churches in Sudan are united to help rebuild the nation. Africans helping Africans.
"The churches now walk together; not as (individual) denominations," John said.
For more information about Sudcan Relief and Development Services, call (780) 428-9317.
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