ACN saving the saveable in Sudan

Children in northern Sudan’s sprawling displacement camps are to benefit from a massive aid payment announced by a leading Catholic charity.

Aid to the Church in Need is this week despatching £92,000 to the Khartoum-based Save the Saveable project in one of the largest payments of 2009 made by the organisation’s UK office in Sutton, Surrey.

The aid package forms the centre-piece of the UK office’s aid payments for March, in which almost 50 Catholic causes are supported around the world.

ACN’s grant to Sudan signals the organisation’s long-term commitment to Save the Saveable, which bishops led by Khartoum’s Cardinal Gabriel Zubeir Wako see as fundamental to the survival and development of Christianity in a country perceived as under siege from extremism.

Save the Saveable serves about 20,000 youngsters spread across more than 50 schools in and around Khartoum, where destitute people live in mud-hut homes. Water is scarce and illness is rife.

Apart from its commitment to academic standards, Save the Saveable gives priority to education in Christianity.

It comes amid reports – both from leading clergy and ACN staff conducting field studies – that show continuing human rights abuses against non-Muslims in Sudan.

Announcing the aid payments, Neville Kyrke-Smith, ACN UK National Director, said: “Save the Saveable is a key project for supporting the survival and development of Christianity in the heart of Africa.

“In a country torn apart by conflict and ethnic divisions, the Church and these schools have a major role to pay in building up faith and hope. They are a spiritual lifeline.”

In a recent statement, Save the Saveable project coordinator Bishop Daniel Adwok of Khartoum described the project as “both a call and a challenge for the poor and marginalised” who feel disadvantaged by the state.

Speaking from Khartoum in an interview with ACN last week, Bishop Adwok underlined the importance of the scheme, saying that many of the displaced communities in the capital had hoped to leave for the south but were returning after finding few signs of development there.

Among the other main projects supported this month by ACN UK are £29,500 for catechisms to be used by Greek Catholic students and teachers in Lviv, western Ukraine.

Elsewhere in Lviv, the charity is giving €20,000 (£18,500) to help build a monastery for the Sisters of St Joseph.

Latin America is a major beneficiary of aid with a series of projects for lay missionary work in remote parts of Peru and Bolivia.

In Haiti, ACN UK is helping with a €13,000 (£12,000) project for a Catholic radio network spanning the whole of the country. The scheme is an important educational tool in a country where 50 percent are illiterate.

In Syria, the charity is supporting Bishop Behnan Hindo with €25,000 (£23,100) for Christian refugees fleeing Iraq and in Romania ACN is helping to complete a church construction project in Fagaras-Biz archdiocese.