Missionary sees needs firsthand during visit to Darfur refugee camp
The title of the drawing was “The War in Darfur,” the boy told missionary Ken Grimm.
The boy was one of about 800 children Grimm saw during a recent trip to Kauda, a mountain village in central Sudan that has become home to more than 1,000 refugees from the conflict in Darfur. An estimated 2 million people have fled their homes in the western Sudanese province since the conflict began in 2003.
Workers with UNICEF encouraged the children in the Kauda camp to draw their thoughts on paper as means of coping with the horrors they’d experienced fleeing their homes.
Lifeline of Hope, a church-supported ministry in Kalispell, Mont., raised emergency funds to buy blankets for the children, who suffer through cold nights in the mountainous village. The ministry, which specializes in international orphan aid, plans to assist in the development of an orphanage in Kauda, Grimm said.
Several religious groups and international relief agencies are cooperating to help the refugees in Kauda, the missionary said, but the need remains great.
“Right now the children are sharing plates and bowls. That’s a health risk,” Grimm said in a cell phone call from Nairobi, Kenya, a few days after he left the Sudanese camp. If one child caught a virus or infection “it would just blaze through the children like fire in prairie grass.”
There’s also a tremendous need for teachers in the camp, Grimm said. Relief groups have set up a school for the refugee children, most of whom speak Arabic, but are short on instructors.
The refugees are almost entirely Muslim, Grimm said, but some had begun “praying to Jesus” for help. The missionary, who also has worked among Muslims in India, told the refugees that Christians were praying for them.
“These kinds of human kindness acts are what attract Muslims to Christianity,” he said, “not because they’re looking for a handout, but because you care.”