Tag Archives: aid

5 Key Principles for Working with the Poor: # 5 Transformation through Relationships

This is the last of five posts covering key principles in ministry with the poor intended to help churches move from transactional to transformational ministry.  In the previous post, we discussed the fact that we are all created to be creative.

5. Transformation through Relationships

“The tasks we think are so critical are not more important than the people God has entrusted to us.” – Sherwood Lingenfelter

Are you like me at work and keep your “To-Do” list within arm’s reach? I’m probably a little weird, but I find it cathartic to scratch stuff off that list. Sometimes I keep scratching through it a little longer than I need to.

Unfortunately, I think we often treat ministry with the poor like a “To-Do” list. We make it more about crossing things off our list than we do about the people themselves. In your church, is it more common to see drives for shoeboxes and back packs full of schools supplies, or mentor programs that focus on being with people? Ask most outreach pastors and they’ll tell you that close to 100 people will sign up to provide a shoebox for every one person who agrees to volunteer for a weekly mentor program.

We forget that poverty is ultimately about people, and ministry is relational. We tend to focus on the material problems rather than the people themselves. “See a problem, Fix a problem.”  If ministry with the poor is relational in nature like other types of ministry, shouldn’t it look more like small groups at our churches?

Community members and leaders in the village of Harako, Chad, meet with World Concern staff to share their needs and their goals for transforming their own village.

Community members and leaders in the village of Harako, Chad, meet with World Concern staff to share their needs and their goals for transforming their own village.

At World Concern, our community development process starts, in most cases, with several months of meeting with the community and its leaders. We want to hear the story of their village, ask them about their vision for the future and their struggles that keep them being where they want to be.

Then, we begin to work with them on the goals they’ve set by building on what they already do well. Seeing lives transformed in this way takes time and requires walking with people patiently through the ups and downs of life. It’s not a quick fix, but it is lasting.

In my next post, I’ll tell you about how World Concern pulls these five principles together in our community development process by telling you the story of one village.

Praying for Marubot

Finally, the first tears fell tonight. I’m ashamed to say, I’ve been too busy to cry. I’ve been quoting statistics all week, since the fury of Typhoon Haiyan left a bleeding gash on the Philippine islands. And repeating the message of why we need to help—now.

10 million affected

10,000 possibly dead

650,000 displaced

For some reason, those numbers just felt like numbers.

But tonight, sitting in my darkened car, reading the email on my phone about the first assessments in an area that took 7 hours to reach by car, it finally hit me.

Marubot. That’s the community the assessment team reached today. It has a name. It’s important for us to know its name, don’t you think?

And then the numbers:

24 barangays (villages)

15,946 individuals affected

7,344 families

2,058 dead.

That’s when the tears came. 2,058. Each one, a precious life. Unprotected from this God-awful, mammoth storm that made history. Gone.

“The municipality is totally destroyed,” the report reads. “Not one house is left standing. The barangays are 100% damaged.”

“People are eating coconut meat mixed with salt for survival.”

And they’re sick. With no drinking water, diarrhea is spreading fast.

No water. No electricity. No cellphone signal.

And until today, no one had been there yet to help. This team was the first.

This area is just one of hundreds waiting for help to arrive.

Suddenly, the numbers came to life. 10 million affected.

Lord, help them. Please help them.

I am encouraged by the flood of support pouring in. I listen to the phones ring at World Concern all day, and I hear my coworkers blessing and thanking generous donors whose hearts are also broken.

It makes me feel like we’re in this together. All of us. People whose homes are still standing, and who have something more to eat than coconut and salt.

Thank you for giving, and for caring. And for praying.

We’re coming, people of Marubot. Keep hanging on. We’re in this together.

 

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
(Psalm 121:1-2)

 

 

IDP family in camp

Going Home: Eastern Chad, then and now

This week I was browsing through photos and documents from 2006-2008, when our staff was assessing the needs of families in Chad in the wake of the Darfur war. Wow. The situation was grim. According to these documents, in 2007 there were about 230,000 Sudanese refugees in Chad, and 180,000 displaced Chadians.

We were planning a response in camps near Goz Beida, a town that previously supported a population of 5,000. By 2008, there were an additional 60,000 displaced people living there. Imagine if your hometown of 5,000 suddenly had 60,000 traumatized, homeless, and desperately needy visitors.

Village destroyed by fire

A village in E. Chad, destroyed by fire.

These families—what was left of them—had survived horrific violence. Armed militia on horseback (called Janjaweed), had lit their grass homes on fire, destroyed their villages, and killed everyone in their path. Only those who hid in the bush survived.

One of those who survived was a woman we’ll call Hawa. I discovered her story amidst pages of data collected by our staff. One way we determine how to help is by talking directly with families—hearing their stories. Hawa was eager to tell hers, and other women gathered around as she spoke, nodding their heads that their stories matched.

Hawa lived in a village of about 2,000 people, their houses scattered along the edge of a seasonal river.  In the short rainy season, they cultivated grain, harvesting enough to feed themselves throughout the rest of the year, plus a bit to sell. 

During the dry season, they dug wells in the dry river bed and grew vegetables to sell in the local market, or to dry for eating.  Each family had about 60 animals that provided them with gallons of milk. 

The girls fetched water while the boys looked after the animals, attending the local school when their chores were done.  There were occasional droughts when times were tough, but they lived a full life and seldom went hungry…

Broken grain containers

Broken grain containers.

Then one day, without notice, men mounted on horses and camels surrounded the village, encircling it, running around the perimeter of the houses, shooting into the air.  Women scrambled, terrified, to collect their children.  A few of the riders charged into the village, killing 40 of the men, setting the thatch roofs of the houses on fire. 

In the chaos, the women ran with their children to hide beyond the riverbed.  For hours the attackers systematically pillaged the village, taking anything of value that had survived and loading them up on the large train of camels they’d brought along for that purpose.  They killed anyone they found remaining in the village, carrying away 3 women they captured alive. 

The attackers even poked around in the ground to find their grain stores.  The excess they could not carry away, they burned to make sure that no one could come back to live in this village.

After hiding for a couple of days, a few of their number returned to the village to see what they could salvage, to bury the dead and to find missing members of their families.  Hawa held a scarred cooking pot.  From all her possessions, it was the only thing she’d managed to save.  But she had all of her children together and was grateful for this.  She didn’t know where her husband was…

Family inside IDP hut

A family inside their hut in a camp for displaced families.

She sought safety amongst the tens of thousands of others in Goz Beida.  Now she had only a grass hut, a crusty cooking pot, a cotton cloth to cover her children at night and a few kilograms of grain to feed her children.  No milk, no vegetables, no oil or even salt. When she’d first arrived, she’d been lucky enough to receive a bag of grain as food aid, but she’d had to sell about half to buy some basics like a spoon, salt for the food, dried okra and soap. 

Not willing to simply watch her children starve, she braved the threat of rape to collect firewood to sell in the hopes of earning maybe 25 or 30 cents which she would use to buy food.  This takes time and plenty of stamina, but must be done in addition to the eight hours each day she spent collecting water.  Even then, it is only enough for drinking, cooking and washing their faces. 

Hawa had lost so much, but she retained her dignity and her will to fight for the survival of her family.

Children during the crisis.

Children during the crisis.

Around the time Hawa arrived in the camp, World Concern began providing emergency assistance there. Knowing that this kind of aid is temporary, we developed ways to help families become self-sufficient, mostly through cash for work, savings groups, and small business development.

The land had been depleted of trees for firewood, so when it rained, the water ran down hill, flooding certain areas, and leaving other places desolate and useless. Nothing was growing.

We began paying people cash to build rock lines that would cause rainwater to soak into the ground and allow plant life to grow again. At first glance, the work appeared tedious and pointless. But families could use the cash they earned to buy food or supplies. And the lush, green growth that emerged after it rained proved this system worked. Families began the long process of recovery.

I came across a statement in one of the reports written during this time that caught my attention. It said, “World Concern is committed to being a long term presence in the area.”

We’ve kept this commitment. We’re still there, five years later. Some of the camps have closed. Others turned into towns. Our focus in Chad has changed as people’s needs have changed.

I remember, about three years ago, asking the staff member who interviewed Hawa what the solution was—what these families really needed most.

She responded, “What they need is to go home.”

For the past year and a half, this is exactly what’s been happening. Families are returning to their villages—or the areas where their villages once existed—and they’re rebuilding their lives from nothing.

Scooping water from a hole in the ground in Harako.

A young girl scoops water from a hole in the ground in the village of Harako, Chad.

Once again, we started by assessing needs when several hundred families returned to the tiny village of Harako, about 40 miles from Goz Beida. A few grass huts were built as shelter, but fields for farming were overgrown with brush. The families had no tools to clear the fields or plant crops, and the planting season was near. Their only source of water was a muddy hole they dug in the sand.

Through One Village Transformed, and with the support of donors and groups like Westminster Presbyterian Church, things look very different in Harako today. Families received farming tools, seeds, and training to plant crops—and their first harvest provided enough to get them through the dry season. A well was dug, gushing forth thousands of gallons of fresh, clean water. And residents worked tirelessly, baking bricks to build the first classroom for their new school, which is scheduled to be completed this month.

New well in Harako.

The new well in Harako, built with the help of One Village Transformed supporters.

Everywhere you look in Harako, lives are being transformed. Out of the ashes, families are rebuilding what they never thought they’d have again … homes, crops, schools, wells.

In a way, things have come full-circle from the horrible tragedy that swept through Eastern Chad a few years ago. Full circle, from disaster to resilience. And restoration of what was lost.

These families are going home. And we’re going with them. Join us, and witness the transformation.

Farmer's group in Harako.

A World Concern supported farmer’s group in Harako that shares tools, knowledge, and seeds to grow healthy crops.

School construction in Harako.

Construction of a new school in Harako has been a team effort. Bricks were baked by villagers, and construction is supported by One Village Transformed partner Westminster Presbyterian Church.

Photos: Meeting critical needs for displaced families in Myanmar

Last month we told you about thousands of innocent families who were forced to flee their homes because of fighting in Northern Myanmar. These families arrived in overcrowded camps with nothing. People were sleeping outdoors in the cold and children were sick. Many of you stepped up and donated. Here are some photos just in from our staff in Myanmar showing how we’re helping.

New latrine in Mynamar camp.

A new latrine to protect the health of displaced families living in a camp in Kachin State, Northern Myanmar.

New well.

A new well being dug in one of the camps.

Nutritious food in camps.

A World Concern staff member (right) checks the nutritious food families are receiving in the camps.

Sick mom and baby receive medical care.

A sick mom and her baby receive medical care.

Hand washing training in camp.

World Concern hygiene trainers conduct a hand washing training in the camp to help keep families healthy and stop the spread of disease.

A water tank holds safe drinking water.

A brand new water tank holds clean, safe drinking water in one of the camps.

Well being dug.

Another angle of a well being dug to provide a sustainable source of clean water.

Families receiving supplies.

Families receive blankets, mosquito bed nets, and emergency supplies.

World Concern Horn of Africa beneficiaries

Food Distribution in the Horn of Africa Goes High Tech

Note: This article was originally published on the Huffington Post Impact X blog on Oct. 10, 2012.

World Concern Horn of Africa beneficiaries

As NGOs shift our response from disaster to development, there are still many hungry people to feed.

Getting food into the hands of the hungry in the Horn of Africa is about to go high tech. Seattle-based humanitarian organization World Concern is piloting a new mobile phone app in the drought-stricken region, aiming to streamline the process of tracking food distributed to hungry families and payment to local merchants.

World Concern has been distributing food and emergency supplies to families affected by the Horn of Africa drought since July 2011. As famine spread throughout the region, aid organizations struggled to reach millions of people, especially those living in southern Somalia. World Concern distributed vouchers to hungry families who were able to purchase food from local merchants. The system supports the local economy and helps ensure food reaches those in greatest need.

This method has been extremely effective, even in dangerous and hard-to-reach places. More than 30,000 vouchers have been distributed so far, each representing a two-week supply of rations for a family of six.

World Concern staff uses mobile technology  in the Horn of Africa

World Concern staff members learn to use a new mobile app to track food distributions in the Horn of Africa.

The new mobile app allows field staff to use a tool they are already carrying (a mobile phone) to record data in the field (instead of a pencil and paper), and negates the need for re-entry into a computer at a later date. This saves time and reduces the risk of errors.

The system tracks beneficiaries and the food they receive via bar codes that are scanned into a mobile phone. Merchants have an I.D. card with a barcode, which is also scanned so they can be paid via wire transfer almost instantly.

The mobile app was developed by Seattle start up ScanMyList, whose founder, Scott Dyer, created a mobile application to help retail businesses track inventory. When Dyer saw one of World Concern’s vouchers, he realized the same system could help the humanitarian organization reach people during a disaster more efficiently and track aid more accurately.

Dyer traveled to the Horn of Africa with World Concern to kick off the pilot program, which will put the new technology into action in the field this month, as 4,000 food vouchers are distributed in Eastern Kenya and Southern Somalia.

“Not many people can say they’ve birthed an idea and seen it to fruition,” said Dyer. “It’s super exciting.”

The real brain behind this technology is the custom database, which is not only programmed to receive data from mobile phones, but to “think” about what it receives. The database will identify possible duplicate entries, flag significant variations in data, and crosscheck entry errors. Then, the database is programmed to generate custom reports in real time. World Concern staff can view these on a website, seeing exactly how many meals are distributed immediately.

World Concern and partner agency staff practice scanning bar codes with their mobile phones during a training last week.

World Concern and partner agency staff practice scanning bar codes with their mobile phones during a training last week.

“This technology will enable our staff to report on their life-saving distribution in real-time, increasing our ability to respond to immediate needs as they arise,” said Chris Sheach, deputy director of disaster response for World Concern.

While the “famine” has officially ended in the Horn, the long-term effects of such a severe drought and crisis will be experienced for many years to come. As NGOs shift our response from disaster to development—teaching pastoralists who lost their herds to farm and other forms of livelihood diversification—there are still many hungry people to feed. This new technology will enable us to do this even more quickly and efficiently. It can also be used in other types of disasters, particularly in cash-for-work programs.

Joseph Kony and the LRA.

KONY 2012 — One piece of the poverty-injustice puzzle

The viral KONY 2012 awareness campaign around Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) is succeeding in breaking through apathy and engaging people with the atrocities taking place in South Sudan, Congo and Uganda. For that I am very grateful. It misses the nuances of the issue, but it still brings light to this injustice. I see the effects of violence and injustice as I travel to World Concern’s programs in incredibly poor places. The LRA’s reign of terror is part of this injustice, and it must end. Oppression, slavery and murder must end throughout the world.

Joseph Kony and the LRA.

Joseph Kony and the LRA are among the most notorious perpetrators of violence and injustice.

Where does someone like Joseph Kony come from? Wherever people have more power than others, there is oppression. Where people have no power, they are taken advantage of, exploited and abused. Oppression happens in every nation in the world. Kony is a clear example that is being brought to light. We need to shine that same light on violence and injustice, as well as their sources, and take the discussion beyond a single person.

It is our nature to seek simple solutions. In some ways this is as simple as Kony needs to be stopped. But that is where the simplicity ends. In this case, an army must be demobilized. The cycle of poverty that creates vulnerability to abuse needs to be broken as well. Empowering people through economic security is the best defense against the Konys of this world.

Capturing Kony would be a huge victory and one we would all celebrate. But unfortunately, it won’t end the violence in South Sudan, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, or other places. As strongly as this campaign advocates for involvement by the U.S. government to defeat one person, let us advocate for the long-term work of defeating extreme poverty and its ripple of devastating effects.

Mom and baby in Raja, South Sudan.

A mother and child at a World Concern food distribution site in Raja, South Sudan. Families in Raja are frequently threatened by LRA attacks.

Real change takes time. This film took nine years to produce and it is just a call for change. The best solutions are not imposed from outside. Walking with the people affected to solve complex problems brings sustainable change.

We need this new found awareness of complex problems to lead to a shift in our sense of responsibility for the suffering around the world. The best aid is not delivered in a day by westerners, and of course, it cannot be solved over social media. I see dramatic change in the lives of vulnerable people when we help equip them with tools to take control of their own destiny long-term.

If the 70+ million people who have watched KONY 2012 get engaged and fight global injustice, it will have a significant impact ending oppression in these difficult places.

Why we go to the remote corners of the planet

Sometimes we get asked, “Why do you help people in other countries instead of the poor right here at home in the U.S.?”

Good question and one I think is worth answering.

Every nonprofit has a mission – a calling they aim to fulfill through their work. There are more than a million nonprofits based in the U.S. Many help with domestic issues and serve people here, while others help internationally. Some do both.

We at World Concern feel a special calling to help those in the poorest, least developed and often hardest to reach places in the world. That’s our mission. We seek out places to serve where climate and geography, societal instability and scarce infrastructure create incredible challenges – both to the people living there, and in terms of reaching them with help.

The road to Somaila.

The desolate road to the Somalia border -- one of the places we go to reach people in need.

One example of this is in our response to the Horn of Africa drought crisis. The most practical place to help would have probably been the refugee camps in eastern Kenya. But there were already many organizations responding within the camps. As we assessed the area and the situation, it became clear there was an added strain being put on communities surrounding the camps and near the Somalia border as tens of thousands of displaced people were arriving in these towns.

We saw an unmet need and made the decision to support these communities – with food, access to water, medical care and emergency supplies. Since August, we’ve fed thousands of people, many who had been walking for weeks in search of assistance. Some might not have survived the last leg of the journey to the camps. Others have settled in these communities – a better place to start a new life than a refugee camp.

These communities are dangerous places to work. They are under almost constant threat of attack by militia. On the Somalia side of the border, we are one of only a few organizations working there. But we see this as fulfilling our calling to reach people in desperate need in hard to reach places.

Muddy road to Laotian village.

Muddy roads, like this one in Laos, make some of the villages we serve inaccessible by vehicle.

Some of the villages where we serve in Laos are cut off from society because of rain, mud, rivers and damaged roads. The people there have no way to access food or medical attention if needed.

Thanks to infrastructure, development and government assistance here in the U.S., communities are rarely cut off from aid, even in a disaster. We’re finding ways to reach people in remote parts of the world – because few others will.

In American culture, there is a an emphasis on helping ourselves before we help others. The self-help world tells us that taking care of our own needs first is as important as on our own oxygen mask on an airplane before assisting others. We secretly aim to make sure our own children have enough Christmas presents before giving to others in need. As Christians, we’re called to put the needs of others before our own (Phil. 2:3-4). This is not to say we shouldn’t support the needs of the poor here at home. But what would Jesus say about the idea of “helping our own” before reaching out to others?

Birth pains of a new nation plague Southern Sudan

In terms of challenges, southern Sudan faces some mammoth ones in the coming months and years. As if giving birth to a new nation on July 9 were not enough, recent violence and looting in the disputed border town of Abyei is threatening to impede the process.

Men looting food in Sudan.

Men transport sacks of food looted from a compound belonging to the World Food Programme in Abyei, Sudan. REUTERS/Stuart Price

Instability in the area is creating food and fuel crises. Think you’re getting gouged at the pump these days? One of our staff members in Sudan filled his tank yesterday at what was equivalent to $15 a gallon.

All of this is sending tens of thousands of people south. Some are returning “home” after living in the north for as long as a generation. Others are escaping the violence, in search of a new start.

Unfortunately, southern Sudan doesn’t have much to offer its newest residents.

In January, the New York Times reported some staggering statistics about the south.

  • 83 percent of the population lives in rural areas
  • The 3,400 miles of road are virtually unpaved and only passable during the dry season
  • Life expectancy is 42 years
  • 51% of the population lives below the national poverty line of $22 a month
  • Only 1% of households have a bank account
  • Only 1.9% of the population has completed primary school

In terms of development, “There’s almost a blank page,” says World Concern Senior Director of Disaster Response and Security Nick Archer.

We’re approaching these monumental challenges in several ways: meeting an immediate need for food by providing emergency rations of food to returnees, and helping develop an economy through vocational training, small savings groups and village banks.

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir addresses the media.

As South Sudan's president, Salva Kiir faces some huge challenges ahead. He's seen here addressing the media in Juba. REUTERS/Paul Banks

“There is a dearth of skilled labor,” says Archer, pointing out this presents another challenge in establishing a new government for South Sudan as well.

“This area [where we work] is really remote. It has almost never had any kind of development. The clock has hardly started ticking,” he said.

But the clock is ticking toward July 9, and according to Archer, there is a window of about three to five years for southern Sudan’s government to demonstrate progress for the country to hold together. “There is a school of thought that if it doesn’t happen within that window, the country could disintegrate.” Ongoing tribal rivalries are primarily to blame for this, he said.

Since stimulating economic activity in Sudan is a critical step in building a new nation – and something we can help with – we’re focusing our efforts on this. Read how savings groups are bringing hope to women in Sudan.

It’s a small start, and development of this magnitude will take time. Please join us in praying for a peaceful, safe birth of this new nation.

Sudan country director addresses graduates

World Concern Sudan Country Director Peter Macharia

World Concern Sudan Country Director Peter Macharia.

World Concern Sudan Country Director Peter Macharia recently addressed a group of graduates from a 21-day training workshop for new leaders of a literacy and financial management program. The workshop was held in Juba and involved participants from all over Sudan.

His comments were published in the Sudan Vision Daily newspaper.

Here are Peter’s inspirational words shared with participants, church leaders and guests at the ceremony.

“This is a great day for all of us. For the trainer, it has been a long tiring month of learning. You have been bombarded with new knowledge, refreshed with new ideas, and challenged with new hope.

You are now being called to go out and make disciples. You are called to be the light to those in literacy darkness. You are called to be the salt to those who are finding life tasteless because of despair and hopelessness. You have been equipped and you now have the tools and the skills to bring transformation in the villages and in the cities.

As you go out, I will say like what God told Joshua, ‘Be strong and courageous.’ (1:6) I am also persuaded to remind you of what Paul told Timothy, ‘And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ.’ (2 Timothy 2:2)

Please go out and train others, empower them and make up. As for us, we will stand by you to support you and encourage you to achieve the program goals. We will also pray for you.

Remember, we are not doing it for ourselves, not for Mothers Union, not for World Concern, but for God and His people!

This program belongs to you. You are the one to make it a success or a failure. I will urge you to make it a success! Be prepared to leave behind a legacy that you will be remembered for. I challenge you to think of how you can achieve beyond your target for you are well able.

Thank you, and unto God’s grace I commend you!”

Timely vote in Sudan is needed to keep peace

Vocational students in Sudan

Students are learning mechanics at a newly opened vocational school in Sudan. This is just one of the ways World Concern is helping improves lives in southern Sudan.

Media coverage of Sudan’s upcoming referendum scheduled for a vote in January 2011 has increased recently as the date draws closer and President Obama spoke on the issue at the UN General Assembly last week. World Concern works in southern Sudan, and the relative peace in that region over the past five years has allowed us to make great progress in extremely poor communities.

As a humanitarian agency, we limit our involvement in the political processes of the countries where we serve. We know, though, that violence hinders our work – and we expect violence if the vote is delayed. Therefore, we hope and pray for a peaceful outcome to the process this January.

Dave Eller, World Concern’s president, shares some thoughts below. He visited Sudan in June and saw firsthand the struggles people face there to overcome decades of war and violence – many of whom lost everything in a conflict they didn’t support.

“On a recent trip to southern Sudan I overheard many conversations about the referendum that is to take place in January. The people of southern Sudan are very anxious to have this vote take place as scheduled. They seem to believe that if the vote does not happen as scheduled it will be postponed indefinitely and may not happen. There is fear that if the referendum is not held there would be a return to violence.

The peace accords that were signed attest to the fact that is it is possible to end fighting. Turning back from the decisions made five years ago would seem to be a significant step backwards. While I am not an expert on Sudanese politics, it is easy to see the benefits that peace has brought.

In this time of relative peace since 2005 significant progress has been made in the development of the South. The people have had the opportunity to start rebuilding their lives. In World Concern’s work we have seen schools reestablished, businesses started, food provided equitably, and community health programs get underway. A return to violence would put the progress that has been made at risk.

The remains of a burned house in Sudan

This is all that remains of a house that was burned during violence in Sudan, which has ceased since a peace agreement between the north and south of that country was reached in 2005.

The referendum needs to be more than just timely. The voting needs to be free and fair.  The voices of the people need to be heard in this very important decision-making process. The people of Sudan desire to have a voice in their future. They have shared with me their heart to see a future lived out in peace and not conflict. The answers may or may not be found in this referendum, but clearly if it does not take place, or if it is not free and fair, it would be a step backwards.

It is my prayer that the leaders of north and south Sudan would find resolution to the remaining issues so that the people of Sudan might live in peace. Sudanese parents I spoke with desire to raise their children free from the threat of violence and war. This is what every parent would want. As international communities we should continue to hold all of the leaders to that standard, and recognize that the solutions must be found to keep from plunging the country back into civil war.

This is a critical time in the history of Sudan. It is a critical time in the lives of millions of people. Let us remember our brothers and sisters throughout the country of Sudan in our prayers.”