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An Appeal for Direct Aid to a Village in Africa

There are many sad stories in the world. Sometimes we can do something about them and sometimes we can’t. This is one of the saddest stories I have had to tell. But there is something that we CAN do about it.

The children of Sanbogidan Kanar and Steve. Many people from this village are missing
and presumed dead. A complete count and identification of the living and dead will
never be made. Most of the survivors now live in a refugee camp. All of the homes and
buildings in the background have been destroyed. No one lives in this village any more.

          In 1981, my roommate in College was from Nigeria. His name is Tanko. Tanko and I have been in touch ever since then and have each visited each other in the other one’s country. When Ana and I visited Tanko in 2006, he took us to a village not far from his home where he kept a poultry farm. The living conditions were so bad, we decided that we wanted to help. Over time, through Transafrika, a Non-Profit organization I work with and with the donations of friends and Rotary groups, we have sent many thousands of pounds of books, school supplies, clothes and medical supplies to help raise the living standard of the village.

          In January 2010, in a wave of violence that spanned about 5 days, the whole village was burned down. Many people died. Many were injured. Some of the people we knew, had met and have spent time with were slaughtered and their bodies thrown into heaps and into ravines and ditches. It is really impossible to say what brought on the violence. The conflicts were in some cases between Muslim and Christian, in some cases between different tribes, in some cases between neighborhoods. And in some cases it might even have been all three. Regardless of the cause, it reminds me of a comment made by a friend after Rwanda. “The veneer of civilization is remarkably thin”.

Haruna. Friend of Tanko. Friend of ours. Missing and presumed killed in the mob violence of January 2010. (Update April 2010. Haruna’s body was eventually identified among the dead. His body was found only blocks from the safety of a government compound.)

          This village was smashed, crumbled and burned to the ground. The people that survived have either relocated to other areas, are in some sort of refuge in Churches or Mosques (Tanko has taken some in) or in a government sponsored refugee camp. The news of this tragedy barely made news outside of Africa.

Steve with children at the school. This school, which we have been supplying
for years was torn to the ground and is now rubble.

April 2010 Update Since I posted this in February 2010, we have raised several thousand dollars that has gone directly to the aid of the children of Sanbogidan Kanar. The former village is a silent, burned out ruins. There have been several violent episodes since the original events of January. There have been retribution attacks. In one event in March, Tanko was texting me while he and his wife, Hajara were hunkered down in their house, in the government complex in which Tanko lives and works. He could hear the screams and violence outside the compound while he texted me. For the several hundred people in Sanbogidan Kanar, the story for each is different. The military was tasked with moving those people who had nowhere to go to a refugee camp and keeping the camp secure. The military just recently found some inexpensive land and buildings, all in one area. It was given to these people of the village of Sanbogidan Kanar so they can start their village over again…as a unified village. The orphans have been integrated into the other families (note, because families in this area are often very extended families, the definition of being an orphan is not as clear and distinct as other cultures might define it. Some children were taken in with Aunts, Uncles, distant relatives etc and would not consider themselves orphans in the same respect as we might. They were absorbed into their extended family). The military is still in the area to protect the citizens from future violence. This is not a guarantee that violence will not break out. But if the military were not there, it would almost certainly guarantee that there would be more bloodshed. Tanko has personally taken charge of helping out the former residents of Sanbogidan Kanar. He has used the funds that we have sent to provide food and clothing and has organized with the nearby school for the children to start attending school. Some of the funds we have sent will go toward the children’s school fees (most schools in this area charge a nominal fee to cover the teachers’ salaries and the scant books and supplies that are provided. Also, the children are required to wear uniforms, which is common through Africa). It will cost $10 per child for school fees and uniforms. As I spoke with Tanko this morning, he and Hajara were sorting clothes that had been donated by others in their community. Another wire transfer of funds goes off to Tanko tomorrow.

The funds we are providing at the moment are going to help the families start over and get to a basic level of stability. They had almost nothing before in their previous village. They left their village with only fear and the clothes on their backs. Now, at least they can retain their unity as a village and have some hope for their future and for their children’s future.

So, where is the part where you can help?

Through Transafrika Cultural Institutes you can directly help the people
who have been forced to live in the refugee camp.

Donated funds can be designated in several ways:

          - They can go directly to help the people in this refugee camp with food, medical supplies and basics. Our contact on the ground in Jos, Nigeria, will buy food and supplies to help those who need it most as these people resettle.
          - They can go toward our Transafrika Programs to provide books and school supplies to orphanages and schools in Africa. Such educational tools will help reduce the ignorance and the poverty that leads to this kind of violence and will help to develop talent and productive lives for children in Africa.*
          - They can go to the long-term project of building an orphanage and school outside of Nairobi, Kenya.
          - Or…funds can be designated to go to the TransAfrika general fund for use as the need arises.

For more information about what Transafrika does, please go to
http://www.transafrikacultural.org - call Steve at 303-909-7563 - email steve@baroch.net
or send a check to:

18598 E Whitaker Circle, Unit A
Aurora, Colorado 80015

* At this moment, April 2010, in addition to our work in Nigeria, Transafrika has 1000lbs of books on a container on its way to a Maasai Village School in Kenya. We have a load of books, gifts and personal letters to start a communications project between a school in New Jersey and another in Nairobi. The gifts have been received and thank you letters and photos are on their way back to the US. We have 1000lbs of books, collected from a school in Colorado that will ship soon to a school in Machakos, Kenya. We are organizing a “starter collection” of books for each of 45 new school libraries in Uganda and Kenya in conjunction with a Rotary Project. A project to collect books and school supplies and provide funds to ship these was just begun in Feb in Temecula, California.

Schoolboys after receiving books in Kibera, Kenya
through a Transafrika Project.