Women’s Center News
Amal Abdul Mutalib Ibrahim joined the staff at the El Fasher office on May 23rd as Manager of the Women’s Center Program. She will be responsible for coordinating the weavers, training and facilities development. Amal earned a Master’s degree in Agricultural Science from the University of Khartoum and previously work for Oxfam. We are delighted to welcome her to DPDO._______________________________________________________________________________________
In rural Darfur, many women have lost family members, their homes, all their personal possessions, and their livelihoods as the result of militia attacks on their villages. Some have endured four to five years in “temporary” shelters in under-supplied camps for displaced people. They’ve become the heads of their remaining households. And many have suffered multiple rapes. Darfuri women and girls are at the center of one of the most serious human rights and women’s health crises in the world today.
The Darfur Women’s Center is a secure place for women to gather for supportive services and programs. The guiding principle of the Center is equipping Darfuri women with the resources to recover personal strength and develop resources to rebuild productive lives. The Center integrates social, educational, and income-generation services by providing:
- A safe environment that encourages peer support in group activities;
- Facilitation of micro-enterprises to ensure continuing income for women supporting households;
- Training in first aid, literacy, vocational skills – as requested by the women.
Where is the Women’s Center?
The pilot Women’s Center is located in Kassab IDP camp near Kutum, North Darfur, 65 miles northwest of El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur.
In September 2009, a second Center was opened in Abu Shouk IDP camp near El Fasher. The programs at this new center are similar to those at Kassab.
Notes from women at the Center:Fatiah F: 28 years, 6 siblings, ailing mother, deceased father “The part of our women community that is at the center benefited a lot from it. Most of these women no longer go to collect fire wood which could lead to them being attacked because they now have solar cookers to cook with. The women at the center make traditional baskets and when they sell these baskets, it helps them to finance their lives. Every time they sell a basket or receive a solar cooker they don’t have to leave the camp for fire wood. “This center has changed my role in the community. It gave me the chance to speak out and report on everything that is going on in the center. Also now the women come to me for help, I have become from a normal woman in the camp to one which makes decisions regarding the welfare of women in the camp.”
Photos from the Women’s Center (Click on image to enlarge)
How the Center has evolved
Phase 1 The Basket Weavers’ Cooperative
launched September 2007
To assist women in generating income for their households, DPDO has fostered the formation of a group of skilled basket weavers. Their baskets are of a traditional design used to keep meals warm. Sixty-eight women currently participate in the weavers’ cooperative at Kassab Women’s Center, with an additional thirty-two to be added before the end of the year. At the Abu-Shouk Women’s Center, there are currently 160 weavers. Recruitment of additional weavers at both Centers is ongoing; steady production will ensure dependable income for the women.
DPDO is partnering with The Women’s Peace Collection, a retail enterprise that supports craftswomen living in the shadows of war, genocide and civil strife , to market the baskets in the United States.
Baskets can be purchased from The Women’s Peace Collection online at: www.womenspeacecollection.com or by calling 1-800-979-0108.
Phase 2 A Place for Women Only
DPDO was granted a site in Kassab Camp for the Center in April 2008. Two tents have been erected for us as the weaver’s workspace and for training workshops. In September 2009, DPDO opened a Women’s Center in Abu-Shouk. Two tents make up the Abu-Shouk Women’s Center.
Phase 3 Health Care 2010
DPDO is negotiating with the Ministry of Health to introduce a mobile clinic that will serve the women’s center on a regular basis.
Phase 4 Training May 2009 – ongoing
Training in subjects of interest to the women will be held on a regular schedule at the Center. Building skills is key to their personal development and to their ability to manage the Center for the benefit of the women’s community and all who depend on them.
The Sudanese Red Crescent provided a trainer for a three-day workshop on first aid in mid-May 2009. A supply of first aid kits was also provided to the 20 trainees. As of November 2009, 60 women in Kassab and 60 women in Abu-Shouk have completed literacy training. DPDO is developing additional health and nutrition training programs for the women.
Planned Services (as requested by beneficiaries)
- Mobile health clinic focusing on reproductive and maternal health
- Midwife training (scholarships for a year-long training program at a medical college)
- Continued microfinance initiatives for the development of women-owned businesses
- Additional Women’s Centers in North Darfur IDP camps
For more information, contact:
Susan Burgess-Lent, Project Manager
E-mail: [email protected]
This June 2010 video is from NBC4 News in Washington. It features the Darfur Women’s Centers in Kassab and Abu-Shouk.
The video below is from Kassab Women’s Center.
Support the Darfur Women’s Centers:
1) Click this button to donate using PayPal.
2) Click this button to donate using your Visa or Mastercard.
3) Mail a check to:
Darfur Peace & Development Organization
P.O. Box 66475
Washington, DC 20035-6475