Mothers' Union in Sudan
In August 2016, staff from Mary Sumner House visited the Sudan for the first time in 6 years. Previously, despite us being able to continue to meet with the Mothers’ Union team in South Sudan due to the issues faced by Christians visiting Sudan, we have had difficulties actually being able to physically travel there. Mama Reida, the MU Community Development Coordinators (CDC’s) in Khartoum greeted us on our first morning, “We thought you’d never come again” was a phrase mentioned regularly.
To give this some context, When Sudan and South Sudan split, Sudan was declared a Muslim State without any Christians and under protestations from the Church they agreed that Christians formed 1% of the population. There is limited to no freedom for Christianity there. Christians are systematically denied work, many are denied the opportunity to go to Church on Sunday and many Christian children end up on the street, as their parents struggle to support their children through school or even to feed them.
Against this incredibly difficult backdrop, Mothers’ Union Literacy and Financial Education Programme are making an enormous difference and have done so for the last 16 years! Where women have had no hope or opportunities to work, they are now starting businesses and sending their children to school. They have the opportunity to save their small salaries together and be encouraged, even when they can’t get to Church.
Samira, is the elected Mothers’ Union leader in the Diocese of Khartoum. She became literate in 2003, through a Mothers’ Union literacy circle. Samira shared that before “she felt like she was blind, it’s like my world has opened up”. Since then, she has improved her language skills with her husband’s help and enrolled herself into a local Bible School, where she achieved her diploma. She now volunteers with Mothers’ Union and is an articulate female leader. Alongside this she is running her own small business which supports her family.
Church leaders in the area were able to tell us that, “Since the literacy programme started a lot has been achieved, you can see many literate women in our communities and the Savings and Credits programme has enabled many women to become self-reliant, even contributing at Church. When we hold meetings, the women now participate, they have confidence and they are really becoming strong. When we conduct home visits, their lives look very different, in the past, their homes were sparse, and some even didn’t have a roof and were dilapidated. Now, they have beautiful homes that they have restored and created for themselves.”