Norwich Christian helps light up African refugee camp
A Norwich Christian is supporting an initiative to bring solar lighting to a snake-infested displacement camp in South Sudan. Keith Morris reports.
In February, Baroness Caroline Cox invited Eldred Willey, from Norwich, to be part of a visit to the camp with her team from HART (the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust).
“I was delighted to be included in the trip,” said Eldred, “and surprised, given that I had recently broken my wrist and had my arm in a plaster cast. But I would not have missed the opportunity for anything.”
Although he has visited many refugee camps, Eldred was horrified by what he saw in the Hai Masna camp near Wau. “The people were traumatised and in a truly pitiful state,” he said. “There was no consistent supply of food, and many of the tarpaulin-and-grass shelters were falling to pieces.”
In the chaos which is now South Sudan, many of those in the camp did not even know who they had fled from. “All they knew was that men with guns had come, killing their neighbours, and burning their houses,” said Eldred. “They just ran, without stopping to find out who was attacking them.”
The team found that the biggest worry in the camp was the lack of light. “Last week my son was attacked by a snake inside out tent,” said Asunta, a mother of six living in the camp. “We had to run away until morning, because we could not see anything.”
Children were also being bitten by scorpions in the night as they groped through the darkness towards the latrines.
HART is answering their needs by joining up with charity Power for the People (PFP), which produces what it calls ‘Little Dream Boxes’. Each box contains 2kg of the latest life-changing solar technology, with an integral torch and hanging light, as well as the facility to charge a mobile phone.
As road travel is too dangerous in South Sudan, HART is arranging for 650 Little Dream Boxes to be flown to Wau, for the most vulnerable families in the camp.
Baroness Cox and her team also crossed over into Sudan, to assess needs in the Nuba Mountains. Last year HART provided life-saving aid to 9000 Sudanese people who were scavenging for food after fighting had driven them from their homes.
Eldred has recently been appointed at Chief Operating Officer of HART. You can support its life-saving work here and stay in touch with its projects at www.hart-uk.org @HARTnews
Pictured above is Eldred Willey (right) meeting members of a community in the Nuba Mountains in Sudan.