This is the story of three friends, Galib Bhayani, Stephanie Williams and Dennis Kulakwa and how they decided to do SOMETHING.These friends met in 2007 in Sudan. Galib and Stephanie were there working for the United Nations and Dennis was working for the Christian Brothers, a Catholic NGO. Sudan and the people of south Sudan touched them profoundly and none of them have ever been the same. They have not forgotten for one day, the children walking naked with protruding bellies and runny noses, the women carrying 20 litre jerry cans full of water on their heads, the girls who only make it to Grade 5 because they get married and start having children soon after and the men who work in the hot sun all day to earn the equivalent of 1 Canadian dollar.
These three friends chose to do something more than just look at their photos from Sudan once in a while or reminisce once in a while about their time there. These three friends are doing something. These three friends are going to make a difference in the lives of south Sudanese women and girls. These friends haven’t tried to forget the injustices or poverty or suffering they saw. They hung onto these memories and DID something. They put in their own money, their own time, their own effort, quit promising careers and made sacrifices. Because they didn’t expect someone else to help, didn’t want to wait and hope that someone else would and they never ever wanted to forget the people in south Sudan.
The result is Some Day is Now International. A registered Canadian charity that is working with women and girls in south Sudan to improve their lives and give them opportunities that we in Canada take for granted. Ninety percent of girls in south Sudan are illetrate, the life expectancy is only 42 years (Sources, CIA, UN, UNFPA). Some Day Is Now International wants to give girls the opportunity to attend school and graduate, to deliver their babies in safe and clean medical facilities with trained health professionals, to work with us to help us create projects that are sustainable, capacity building and long lasting.
Galib, Stephanie and Dennis did the paperwork, background work and leg work and launched three initial projects in June 2009 in Yambio, Western Equatoria. On a tiny budget, but with lots of spirit and determination, they jumped in.
The first project, Save Our Girls, in coordination with the Government of South Sudan Ministry of Education was delivering a reproductive health curriculum to secondary school children. Many girls in south Sudan do not know what their period is or what changes are happening in their bodies. Yet many of them become mothers by the time they are 16 years old. They are treated like women, but shielded from issues about their own bodies. In 2010, this project will include an expanded curriculum that will reach girls of all ages in rural areas and will focus on encouraging girls to stay in school.
The second project, Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies, focuses on safe motherhood. South Sudan has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world. One of the most effective ways to decrease this trend is to have trained birth attendants at births, a relatively simple solution. You are providing training and employment to many women and helping those who need it. Most women, who live in south Sudan, do not have access to medical facilities or a way to get there or the money to pay for the services. A skilled birth attendant can literally make the difference between life and death for a woman. This project will continue in 2010 and also include supplying birth kits to trained birth attendants.
The third initial project, The Kids Next Door, is helping a 72 year old woman named Santina who is raising four orphans. Technically, they are not all “orphans”, some have both parents who have died, some may have one parent alive, but they are unwilling or unable to care for the child. Santina refers to this service as the “Lord’s work.” She was receiving funding up until January 2008, but since then has not received consistent donations. Pretty hard to raise four kids when you don’t know how much money you’re going to have to live on from one week to the next. She has no other source of income and no other way to support herself and the children if she does not receive donations. There is no running water, no electricity, no radio, no TV, no computers, no video games, no vehicle, no plumbing, no toys……..you get the idea. Things that most of us have never lived without and could not even imagine not having. It is especially tragic to see children going without such basics as, food that provides proper nutrition, clean water, an education and regular medical care.
During a visit with Santina, two of the boys she cares for were sitting and playing in the dirt. Literally……they were laughing and giggling and drawing figures in the dirt with their fingers. Hard to imagine, isn’t it? You won’t trip on any toys when you’re at her compound, you won’t hear music blasting or a TV show in the background. These children have the clothes on their back, which by the way, are dirty and torn. She has a baby who requires milk, but she can’t afford it. So she has to give him home made rice milk, which often causes diarrhea. But what can she do? When is the last time you saw an 8 year old girl doing her own laundry by hand in Canada? We would call that child neglect, but it’s the way life is here. Harsh and demanding. In 2010, Some Day Is Now will continue to support Santina and the children and look for opportunities that will help her to provide for the children.
I hope reading this makes you upset, makes you think how unfair the world is, makes you cry, makes you want to know more about Some Day is Now International and south Sudan, but mostly, I hope it makes you want to DO SOMETHING! You don’t have to help Some Day is Now International, but you have to do SOMETHING. If you don’t, who will? Don’t make any excuses, yes aid organizations can waste money, can be inefficient, can get off track, but do some research, find one you believe in and trust and give. It doesn’t have to be just money, it can be your time, your effort, your knowledge, your brain power, your abilities. Don’t make any more excuses, SOME DAY IS NOW! I urge you to take action. It doesn’t have to be thousands of miles away, help someone in your own community. How is the world going to get better, if we don’t care and don’t act. Be kind to each other, be good to each other, treat others the way you want to be treated, use what gifts and talents and resources you have to make a difference. Don’t wait for someone else to do it. Some Day Is Now!
Please visit our website to learn more and make a donation at www.somedayisnowinternational.org.
Some Day Is Now International