Thursday, 19 March 2009

Shedding Light on Solar Panel Issues

The TfS Solar Project continues to have difficulties in the Nuba Mountains due both to its great popularity and to unfamiliarity with the need to keep even simple equipment maintained. The project is, in fact, so popular that panels on schools, clinics and community centres have to be closely monitored least they change location or disappear completely. One recent incident involving a “replanting” of the panel was followed by great consternation when the apparatus did not simply turn itself on and provide the thieves with light! More seriously it is a nuisance that, as a very grass roots charity, we own no vehicles. Let me know if you can recommend a Kadugli area organization or individual able to volunteer use of a four wheel drive for a few hours a week. TfS will pay for the petrol and hundreds of “enlightened” people will pour blessings on the car owner’s head!

Lillian Craig-Harris

Activity in Khartoum and Kadugli Offices

Country Coordinator Neimat Hussein is on well-earned holiday from mid-March to mid-April and Deputy Country Coordinator Victor Gali Thomas is in charge of the office. Consequently, I am working through Victor, an energetic and committed southern Sudanese whom I met many years ago while living in Khartoum. The mixture of Sudanese from several areas of Sudan enriches our Khartoum office and allows me insights into a variety of Sudanese cultures. I always feel it a privilege to work with Sudanese so deeply committed to educating women and children. Since Alan and I were obliged to leave in 1999, I have been back to Sudan 21 times and plan to visit both Khartoum and Kadugli again in May. Each return to Sudan is a joyful reunion.

In the past few days the Khartoum office has concentrated on an application to the European Union (EU) for funding for our Teacher Training and Support Project in the Khartoum area and Nuba Mountains. This is probably the most difficult funding application we have ever worked on. If successful, our application to the EU will allow TfS to continue our Teacher Training and Support Project by training up to 660 teachers over a three year period and providing them with small “incentives” during a subsequent period of monitoring. In TfS experience, such gratuities have often allowed displaced people living in squatter areas to keep open the self help basic schools which they set up for their children. This is an area in which Together for Sudan has been a pioneer. We are also hoping to ask the EU for funding for ongoing training of our office staff, another necessity as the work expands and becomes more complicated.

The Khartoum office and I have also been busy recently working with a request from the Mohamed Ibrahim Foundation (MIF) for further information about our university scholars. MIF is one of three major contributors to TfS’s flagship project, the University Scholars Project (the other contributors are the UK Department for International Development and the Gordon Memorial College Trust Fund). And now the MIF offers us an opportunity on their impending website. Dr. Mohamed and his wife Dr. Hania Fadl, both TfS Patrons, inspire all who know them.

Our Kadugli office is still settling down following a major turnover of employees in recent months. TfS Field Coordinator, Saleem Musa Agoaf is supported by an assistant field coordinator, an office guard and a cleaner – and is showing signs of being a natural for the job. The Khartoum office knows that I am happy when accurate and timely reports keep coming in and Saleem seems well able to fit in with this requirement. TfS plans another Eye Care Outreach in April which will target some one thousand people, for the majority of whom it will be the first time they have been examined by a doctor of any sort. Dr. Nabila Radi, a saintly ophthalmologist, will travel to Kadugli from Khartoum once again and has offered to sleep in the office to save money.

We’ll see about that.