Enjoy this first-hand account of a visit to Sudan written by Crafts Center (at CHF International) Manager Jennifer Marcy, then check out the beautiful baskets from Darfur:
Basket weaving is a traditional art form in Sudan, like many countries around the world, and CHF has been able to promote this craft and make it economically sustainable for displaced women. When the conflict began there was a lot of demand for handmade products as a result of the influx of nonprofit workers who flooded into the area and needed a gift when they returned home from Africa. But, the local market is now saturated and my job is to increase production of these baskets and coordinate the logistics to get them to the United States, where market demand is high due to the interest of Americans who want to help the people suffering in Darfur. It is difficult to clearly understand how this complex situation in Darfur is going to unfold. What is known is that millions of innocent people are victims of this conflict and are unable to lead a normal life. Life in the camps is tedious and often boring. An elderly weaver told me that in her village they always had something to do, whether it was harvesting crops or tending to her children, her days were full. In the camp, life slowly drifts on, which is why I think CHF’s programs are so important. They allow women and men to learn, create, earn a living and socialize. Life continues on, the next generation of children is born in the camps and only knows life in the confinements of the camp walls. Our hope is that the millions of displaced can one day return to their ancestral village, but for now my job is to help women earn a living so they can send their children to school and buy nutritious food for their family.
CHF International, a non-profit humanitarian relief and international development organization, has been working in Darfur since 2004, managing activities in six camps throughout the vast region that is roughly the size of Spain. With the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance, CHF’s programs are designed to help give vulnerable men and women more control over their lives and their futures. Income Generation Activities (IGAs) are one of the most critical interventions implemented by CHF, as they offer communities vital tools that help them survive during the transitional period of displacement that they currently face. Along with IGA activities, CHF is providing shelter in the camps, working to complement food aid by promoting greater self-sufficiency in areas where security allows continued access to land, and is providing health and hygiene classes along with vocational and literacy curriculum.
Check out the baskets from Darfur on our website.