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CWS Support Helps Families in Violence-Torn Darfur, Sudan

Contact: Lesley Crosson, CWS New York, 212-870-2676,; Jan Dragin,  781-925-1526;; both with Church World Service

DARFUR, Sudan, Jan. 15 /Standard Newswire/ -- "I want to learn so that I can help develop my country and help my mother and my community," says 15-year-old Abaker, a student at "Northern Camp" School in the town of Nertiti. Abaker is one of more than 30,000 people living in two camps for internally-displaced people (IDPs) in Nertiti.


The school's headmaster explains: "After the conflict broke out in 2003, and their villages were burned by armed militias, people flocked to Nertiti in the hope that the town would provide them with safety and protection."


The school was set up three years ago by Church World Service partner Sudan Social Development Organization (SUDO), as existing government-run schools could not cope with the influx of IDPs. Sending their children to private school is not an option for displaced families who have lost both their homes and livelihoods.


Northern Camp school provides free materials to the students and teachers.


"'If the school wasn't here, and these children could not learn, then they would purely be victims of the conflict," says the headmaster.


In Nertiti, SUDO also runs a community center and a health care clinic, which provides free services and medication. At the community center, adult education classes provide men and women the opportunity to learn a range of skills.


Small-scale income-generating activities are also carried out at the center, and a group of men has been trained to make shoes.


Ousman, one of the shoemakers, says, "This center is good for us. We are now able to work and get a small amount of money from what we sell."


"We were all farmers," says his friend, Yusef, "but in three years I have not gone outside of town." As he explains, "It is not safe. Everyday we hear gunshots."