The world is a different place in Sudan. We looked in the Prison Ministry office, a door I had not seen open before, and met Ahmed Ibrahim. He is an Evangelist, not a lay reader or ordained, leading a team of 24 who minister in 9 prisons in Omdurman and Khartoum.
Asked about his work he mentioned three children’s prisons, and waved his hand to indicate children about one metre tall. Are they with their mothers? No. What have the children done? Nothing: no crime.
Ahmed described three categories of children held in the prisons. Some are captured in the war areas, separated from their families in the on-rush of military onslaught. Some are street children, abandoned by parents who can cope with them no more, perhaps having nothing with which to feed them. And some are foreign children, also picked up off the streets, from families that are Internally Displaced People or Refugees.
Parents can buy their children back, but otherwise they are tutored into Islam and used when older as soldiers, cannon fodder for the political suppression of their own people.
Ahmed also spoke of the plight of people discharged from prison with nothing, simply dumped on the street. He talked of how they find people who have sat for two or three days in the street with nothing, waiting for help to get transport home. And he spoke of the lack of funding for the Prison Ministry work.
Luka began working in June as a treasurer in a church office in Khartoum. It has been a steep learning curve for him as he has not done this sort of job before. Previously he worked as a cashier in a restaurant in Port Sudan.
Taking appointment as a church worker has meant his salary has been cut in half, and moving to Khartoum means his commute takes three or four transport vehicles (rickshaws or buses) each way. The actual journey takes three hours each way. His working day begins at 5 a.m. and ends at 6 or 7 p.m. depending on whether he can get on the over-crowded buses – others too are making long commutes for work.
Luka lives in a district called Medina Ahmed where the rent is S£1,700 per month. If he moved closer to work the rent would cost more than he’s paid. His wife can’t find work: there is none, or it is too far from home. His wife is happy, near family, but he finds it hard. In Port Sudan he could get help from friends, but here he is new, not known, and cannot get help.
So why does he do it? “I enjoy the work. I want to help Jesus any way I can. If I can’t talk the Bible then I can do this.”
Article courtesy of Leeds-Sudan link.