U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan Praises Education Activities

This week, Plan Sudan, along with representatives from UNICEF and the African Union Mission in Darfur, hosted a meeting with U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan, Scott Gration, in the Abu Shouk Camp in El Fasher, Darfur—which is home to approximately 54,000 people internally displaced by years of conflict in the region.

In addition, the local Wali (the local governor); representatives from Sudan’s Ministry of Education and Humanitarian Aid Commission; members of the local police force; and several community and school leaders attended. Plan Sudan Project Officer Ali Ahmed chaired the meeting.

Gration had arrived in the region earlier in the week with the goal of fulfilling President Obama’s strategy to advance the Darfur peace process, by creating opportunities for meaningful dialogue between different groups and interests. He wrote in his official State Department blog: “. . . there is no single government, institution, or organization alone responsible for ending the Darfur conflict. Partnership and collaboration are essential to our efforts.”

At the meeting, Gration publicly thanked Plan Sudan for its own efforts and achievements in the area of education, acknowledging to those gathered that “Plan is one of biggest international agencies working on behalf of children in the area of education.”

Plan Sudan education activities in Abu Shouk (and Zamzam) include school construction and rehabilitation; provision of text and exercise books; school supplies; teaching aids; sitting mats; and other related materials. Plan Sudan also conducts ongoing teacher trainings in three camps, works on instituting kindergartens for the youngest children, and provides vocational training for high school dropouts.

After speaking to the various agencies and community leaders, Special Envoy Gration met with the eighth grade children of the camp, and shared with them that his mother, father, wife, and children were all teachers. The children expressed to Gration their wish to have more text books, and he told them not to get discouraged, but to feel proud of what they had accomplished under such difficult conditions.

While in Abu Shouk, Gration also encouraged community leaders to work in close partnership with International non-governmental agencies, such as Plan, to do everything possible to prevent the kidnappings that could jeopardize the much-needed humanitarian support that is sustaining their people. He also expressed his optimism to everyone that “peace would be coming soon.”

Plan International, one of the most well-established and innovative international children’s charities, is wholly dedicated to the healthy development and sustained well-being of the world’s poorest children and their communities in 48 countries worldwide. Plan has been operating in Northern Sudan since 1977, and now helps some 500,000 poor children across five states to access their rights to health, education, water and sanitation, and protection.

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