Patricia, who founded KIDS FOR KIDS, now works full time to raise awareness of the problems facing children in Sudan, and showing how their lives can be improved in simple yet effective ways. Details of all that is being done by KIDS FOR KIDS in Darfur, and of the fund raising events that have been organised to help, can be found on the LATEST NEWS
page of the web site and in PATRICIA’S DIARY (read Patricia's BLOG
). She is hoping people will be inspired to help, not just in the UK but all over the world, to arrange similar eventsWhat moved you to begin Kids for Kids? Did you collaborate with others to create it?
I visited Darfur in 2001 and met a little 9 year old lad who was walking 7 hours to reach water and then carrying it back to his mother and his three younger brothers and sister. Under Darfur there is one of the largest aquafers in Africa - yet no one was digging handpumps for villagers. Having met his mother and seen the three little goats she owned - her only possessions - I realised that introducing animal loans, providing handpumps - and other long term self sustainable projects, would have an immediate and dramatic effect on families who were living lives of intolerable, and inexcusable hardship.
Interview with Patricia Parker
What type of self-sustaining projects does your organization run? What criteria is used to assess who qualifies for the projects?
We aim to help the poorest families and these are selected by the communities themselves. The projects all have to be self sustainable and key is the training of committees, often but not exclusively, women. These committees are trained in bookkeeping and record taking and enable, for example, goat loans to be sustainable and help the whole community. We lend 6 goats for 2 years, after which time the family pass 6 first born offspring to another poor family - and the loan agreement continues - and then of course to another family. We lend donkeys - essential when there is no other transport and villages are remote - we train village girls as midwives, primary health care workers (there is often no health care at all) we train farmers in irrigation and improved planting techniques and provides things like seeds, donkey ambulances, carts and ploughs. We also provide tree seedlings from our two tree nurseries and train people to care for them.
What attributes do you bring to the running of your organization that enables your team to work towards a vision?
The projects need commonsense, practical application, organisation - and being good with people at all levels, from talking to villagers to negotiating with Ministers of State. I hope I am good at these. It is also essential to be a good communicator to inspire other people to help. I cannot do this on my own! A sense of humour is essential and a great deal of patience - the latter is very hard for me, but I am persevering! I think righteous anger too is needed - you have to feel a sense of outrage at conditions for children which were, and indeed are, known and yet ignored. Villagers are out of sight and it is easy for the international community, and indeed their compatriots, to forget them.
Would you regard your vision for Kids for Kids as being one that has developed with the input of others in the organization or as being one that you have created and developed?
I do have a vision, but it is now shared and developed by everyone involved - from the little four year old at a school who asked me what happens when a goat dies, to the State Minister of Health in Darfur who suggested our village midwives should also be trained in first aid. There is room for us all!
Do you see yourself as a Self-appointed Leader, in that you have used your own initiative to define a problem and developed a strategy that could bring about change?
Unfortunately I do - and my biggest worry is that I must not be irreplaceable. The need in Darfur is immense and Kids for Kids has to continue, whatever happens to me.
What is your opinion about leaders who work towards social change?
Please show me some - I need them! If we could work together we would be a force to be reckoned with.
From your personal experience, what do you see as being needed to help children in Darfur ? What do you see as inhibiting efforts to help people in Darfur?
The obvious problem in Darfur today is the continuing, indeed escalating, violence. This was preventable if action had been taken immediately - and could be stopped now if the international community had the determination based on self interest it had in Iraq. Sadly this is not the case in Darfur, and debate has taken the place of action. Meanwhile children are growing up in inexcusable conditions. When at last security is secured then there is urgent need for water, rebuilding of homes and basic livelihoods, education and healthcare. I am not asking for big hospitals or smart schools - but the basic Child Rights the world agreed so long ago, which do not exist in Darfur.
Who are the leaders who inspire you in your leadership?
I don't think of myself as a leader. Martin Luther King is however an inspiration - and could not be more appropriate.