Shouting from my shed

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The work of Hope and Homes for Children in Sudan

Sudanese boy

“The world is a beautiful place
to be born into
if you don’t mind some people
dying
all the time
or maybe only starving
some of the time
which isn’t half so bad
if it isn’t you.”
– Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Giggling and shielding faces behind freshly scrubbed hands six small boys stand in a group and sing a song. The boys are a family, hence the embarrassment of performance, the clean faces, enforced best behaviour and uncomfortable Sunday clothes. But these irritations are trivial in their lives because they have a family now. Their singing is to welcome me on a visit to their home.
A year ago each of these children was alone. Their lives up until then had been horrifying. They were
either surviving as best they could on the cruel streets or else they had been rounded up and dumped in
government camps. The camps are for children orphaned by the endless war in the south of Sudan, their
parents just another of the two million people who have disappeared or been killed in the brutal conflict.
Alone in the World the children have received scant education, inadequate food and shelter and little love
or personal attention for most of their short lives.
Hope and Homes for Children works in Sudan to take children from the government refugee camps
and to place them in homes within the ordinary Khartoum community. They then live in a simple but
comfortable home, attend a local school (plus receiving extra assistance to help them catch up with other
children of their age) and visit youth groups where they learn useful trades (building, car mechanics etc.)
in order that they will be more employable when they are older. The home I visited had six orphans, now
happily living together as brothers in the care of a permanent mother and father. Everything possible is
done to try and provide the children with as normal an upbringing as possible. It is nothing fancy or
extravagant, it is just a childhood.
An important aspect is that the children are relying on each other and on their new parents. They are
not just feeling dependent on cash from rich, white England. They are helping themselves. That is an
extremely important point.
Children do not need much from life: education, food, shelter, love and laughter. It does not even cost
very much which means that we all have the potential to make a difference if we only choose to do so.
The singing brothers shook my hand as I left and as I looked into the eyes of each of them I felt an
amazing gratitude to them. The gaze of those small boys showed me so much about courage, hardship,
guts, overcoming adversity and deep appreciation for renewed hope and laughter. May the wind be
always at your back, boys. You deserve it.

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