Thursday, January 04, 2007

An opportunity to make a difference in the life of a street child

Hi, I have just had a letter from C in Sudan, who is working with the street children in Khartoum. Since you are all such a creative bunch of people, I thought it may interest you to read about a new project which is being initiated to help them become self supporting, because they need help in the form of creative ideas for goods to produce. I will ask C to elaborate on what sort of raw materials are available for the kids to use, and perhaps you could help come up with ideas of what they could produce with what they can get there.

She is busy getting a blog going, and as soon as it is up an running, I will post the link. If any of you would be willing to post the link on your blog too, and perhaps let your readers know about the project, we could probably get a wide network of people from across the world to help this wonderful cause, and make the kids feel that there are lots of people who care about their future.

Here is C's letter....

Calling all you creative types!
We don’t want your money, but we do need your ideas!
Help Sudanese Street boys help themselves, by donating a design or pattern to their new craft label Urban Cowboy.

You hobby and skills will change their future, when you support the launch of this unique vocational training project.
Urban Cowboy hopes to link you and crafty people like you, to the centre, allowing street boys aged 16+ to learn new skills and enabling them, for the very first time, to make a viable living enabling them to get off the street for good.

It’s so simple…
Have you created a fashionable and simple tote bag design?
Do friends envy your unique homemade cards?
Maybe you’re a whiz with paper mache?
Do you have old equipment you could donate?

Then we need you!

Currently we plan to use -
Simple woodwork
Simple metal work
Paper mache
Handmade paper

…but do you have a better idea?

The Kids
During the nation’s twenty-one year civil war between North and South, more than 2 million southern Sudanese were displaced within the country. Traumatized by war and underemployed or unable to find work, many southern women simply could not care for their children. Today, there are over 35,000 kids, primarily boys living on the streets. Often as young as 4, they each have a story to tell. Some are war orphans some ex-child soldiers; others feel the push and pull of economic factors far out with their control. Furthermore, there is now a growing population of children who have fled the war-torn Darfur region who also make their homes on the street.

Bridge of Hope
12 years ago, Barbara Gouldsbury a native of New Zealand, arrived in Sudan to work with street kids. Together with her dedicated team, (who- when funding is low, often go without pay) they have created a very special haven of- care, health, love, education and most importantly, hope.
At the core of Bridge of Hope, is a residential home, at present housing 32 boys all of which attend a local school. Many hope to continue their education and enroll in state universities in the future. (This year saw the centre’s first student start University, a very special day for us all!)
The drop-in feeding centre provides 2 meals per day, washing facilities and healthcare to between 50 & 100 kids daily. The prep-school is used to prepare boys for entry into formal, local education, while the vocational training centre enables older boys to learn a valuable trade while keeping clean and healthy.
In all there are over 160 boys participating in the various programmes run by The Bridge of Hope.
Urban Cowboy
Barbara’s dedication and impressive results have won, not only the respect of the kids’ toughest critics, but, more importantly, the boys themselves. And, recently many older boys have approached the centre looking for help… and hope.

Sadly, although Sudan’s economy is now booming from oil revenue; the boys in Khartoum have been irreversibly detached from their tribal origins and traditional African culture. In addition, their lack of education and the constant stigma borne of life on the streets has effectively rendered them adrift and futureless, in a predominantly Arab city.

However, they do want to work, to better their situation; to get off the streets.

The unique Urban Cowboy project will offer the boys a livelihood while developing and exploring their artistic abilities and traditional culture. In addition, the project aims to develop each boy’s basic financial and micro management skills through tuition and hands-on experience.

Urban Cowboy Products
Although Sudan currently produces or imports the basic everyday items required by its local residents, its turbulent past has all but eradicated the nation’s artistic and craft making expertise, making it the only African nation without a burgeoning traditional craft culture.

Now we want your help to bring it back.

By using your creative knowledge, the boys can produce fashionable craft items that can then be further decorated with their own traditional artistic skills. Ultimately, you will allow them the opportunity to experiment with and develop their individual creative ability while making a viable living.

In addition to the fledgling tourist market, Urban Cowboy aims to produce gift and souvenir products for the thousands of humanitarian workers who routinely pass through Khartoum each month, each seeking a small memento of their stay or a present that reflects the local culture they have recently experienced.

If you would like to help Urban Cowboy, please copy and paste this on to your blog and help us link to the wider creative world.

Look out for the launch of the official Urban Cowboy blog, coming soon!
So there you have it, wouldn't it be great if we could use our creativity to make a difference in the lives of these kids?

Here is my daily photo, and one from the files.


Janet said...

Oh, that sounds like such a great project. I don't have any ideas that pop into my head right now but for sure I can donate some art/craft supplies, and I will put the link on my blog when it's ready.

I absolutely love the iris photo since it's purple!! And the other one is quite interesting....looks like someplace here in the Southwest. Windmills remind me of my grandparent's ranch.

Janet said...

I forgot to say, I'll link to this blog entry in tomorrow's post so maybe some others will have some great ideas.

Sheila said...

I missed this yesterday..I love these flowers, I think my Mum used to call them flags..

Kathleen said...

This is a great idea. I was inspired on reading this blog and started to wonder in what way I could help as well.

I have a few ideas and I'll put them in point form cos I can get messy.

1. Contact It is a haven of the most creative sellers who have decided to bypass Ebay because they prefer a smaller community, small shop feel to where they're selling - also Etsy only accepts handcrafted goods. Etsy recently conducted a contest whereby people had to come up with ideas on how to re-use old things and create something new and functional out of them. I think they called up "upcycling". So many people entered the competition - really fantastic ideas and such willing participants. I think if you put it to Etsy to man a competition for a worthy cause they might be willing to help.

2. As well as donating creative inspiration and donating tools - people may be willing to buy tools etc. from Ebay at a cheaper price and send them over. Or a group of people could each pitch in to get industrial sewing machines for using in making leather goods. Bags, simple shoes. It would be a good idea to list on the new Urban Cowboys site how much postage costs are and what is not allowed. How easy is it for the donations to reach them?

3. Is there any way of distilling oils from plants etc. i.e. Essential Oils. If there is then they could make home made recipes of Insect repellant, Soothing spray for sunburn.
There is a book that I would be willing to buy cheaply on and send over called The Fragrant Pharmacy by Valerie Ann Worwood. She is world leading Doctor of Aromatherapy and she suggests so many different ideas for using the oils besides for health.

4. Send books on How To….

5. For the Logo of Urban Cowboy – I thought using the curved antlers as the U and the C. I suppose you could need something minimal and simplistic to put on every item.

6. There is a supplier I go through for my jewellery called . They are good people who may be willing to donate some tools and metal supplies. It would be worth contacting them. They are well known.

7. Another competition that could be held would be a “Junkyard” comp where people could scavange for old tools and equipment that someone may be willing to repair and send over.

8. I saw a programme a while back – it was a show I think called The Inventors. This young girl came up with an idea for carrying water on your head. I think it was collapsible and also kept cool. I’m going to see if I can find it. It was a great invention, helpful for not losing precious water. If they could make their own version and sell it.

9. Posters/Flyers – I think besides spreading the word on the internet. Requests for donated goods at large department stores may help.

10. I have a cousin who is a shoemaker, a sister who is a carpenter and another sister who makes art with glass. I’ll ask them if they have anything to offer. I make jewellery I don’t know if that would be any help but I would be happy to type up easy lessons.

Regards - Kathleen