What is your signature innovation, your new idea, in one sentence?
We intentionally go to the war zones to establish a peaceful presence with housing, food, medical care and food for the orphans and widows at high risk of slavery.
Describe your innovation. What makes your idea unique and different than others doing work in the field?
Currently, we are the only orphange available for the Darfur orphans who are at high risk of enslavement. Most consider it too dangerous, too remote and/or too expensive to build and maintain housing and care programs within this region. Some groups offer food drops/dispersements or funds for 'in-home care". However, we have found that when orphans are placed in a desperate families home, as in Sudan, the money is used to care for the pre-existing family unit and the orhpan is used as a slave to fetch water, tend live-stock, collect firewood or worse. These programs do not ensure protection for the orphans or those at risk from being sold or traded or captured for slavery.
In 2005 we launched an indigenously managed school, food program, medical clinic, orphanage and slave repatriation ministry on the border of Darfur and Southern Sudan - the only orphanage available for these children. We are not involved in the political situation, instead we take in Muslims, Animists and Christians alike. We provide housing to orphans from both sides of the war and are modeling peace, forgivness and eventually teaching job training/placement within their country.
We are proving that you can be in a war zone and still model peace within an indigenous, sustainable program.
Delivery Model: How do you implement your innovation and apply it to the challenge/problem you are addressing?
We send small professional teams into work with local leadership. These leaders are trained in education, healing, medical provision and childcare. The leaders are then empowered to develop the program that will work best within their cultural context to care for and protect their most at-risk women and children.
How do you plan to grow your innovation?
Last year we completed our first orphanage on the border of Darfur and Southern Sudan. This year, we are building our second. By yearend, we will have capacity for 450 orphans in our school, housing and food program. (currently, we house 200). The majority of our staff are former slaves from the war invasion. We build around their healing process and prepare them for job service within the school/orphanage. In 2009, we plan to start our third orphanage, again relying on indigenous (many former slaves) to care for the children. This is a powerful and empowering model as, in Sudan, the best hope for survival is marriage. Most Sudanese men will not 'have' these women because they have been 'marked' by the militias. we offer them a way to not only live - but to be useful and protect others from what they have endured. It is a very healing and empowering opportunity.
Do you have any existing partnerships, and if so, how do you create them?
Yes. We have developed relationships with other organizations who do more temporary 'relief' type work in the area: African Leadership, Open Doors, Voice of the Martyrs, AIM. These relationships have developed through on-site visits, collaberation on projects and funding.