Sudan update: Q&A with Mowia Abdelkarim, Director, SOS Children’s Villages Sudan in Khartoum

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

In mid-April, when fighting began in Khartoum, Mr. Mowia Abdelkarim, the Village Director at SOS Children’s Villages Sudan in Khartoum oversaw the safe evacuation of children and their caregivers from the SOS Children’s Village. A few weeks later, as the conflict intensified, the families moved from the besieged capital to the outskirts of the city. The 15 families, including young people from the youth home, are now well settled and have begun a new chapter of life away from harm. In this interview, Mowia talks about their experience and their plans moving forward. 



The experience was horrible, says Mowia 


“Let me first send my great thanks and gratitude to those who have worked behind the scenes for the care and protection of the children, SOS families and SOS staff, and of course including my own family. Your support has seen us through a very difficult time. 


“The experience was horrible… to be honest we all thought that we would be killed by the bombing and shooting. 


“Fortunately, when the fighting began, all the caregivers had enough food in the family houses. The challenge was the shortage of water. Artillery fire and armoured vehicles damaged the main water tank in the village and even the piping. We had to get water from other sources and that was hard and dangerous.” 


What have the caregivers told you about their experiences? 


“One important issue to highlight is that the children and the caregivers had a very hard time during the clashes because of forced hibernation. And the loud noises of bombing and shooting really terrified them. Fortunately, by the grace of God, they made it out of Khartoum safely. But the children are traumatized from what happened and what they saw. They have psychological issues and need urgent support.” 


What has this experience been like for you and your family? 


“For me and my family, what has happened is like a nightmare. And to be honest, I thought we would be killed, either by the random bullets or our homes would be destroyed by the heavy weaponry and collapse over our heads.”  


Do we know of cases where children have lost parental care? Is SOS Children’s Villages able to help in any way? 


“We have children who have already lost parental care living in government-run facilities. I think this is a good time to stand side by side with other non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations and UN agencies to provide support to rescue the lives of many children and to provide the required care and protection.” 


What is next for the children and caregivers? 


“The next step is to revisit our family budget. The prices of basic food have increased dramatically, and we need to revise our budget upwards if we are to meet the required needs of the children during this hard time.” 


What education arrangements do you have for the children? 


“The school year 2022-2023 has been closed in Khartoum State. Most children in our care had completed their final exams but had not received their certificates. About 11 children were supposed to sit for the basic examination in June, which is now not possible looking at the situation in the country. We are discussing possible ways of placing the children in the schools available outside Khartoum State, where they have relocated.” 

About SOS Children’s Villages in Sudan


SOS Children’s Villages has worked in Sudan for more than 40 years. The armed conflicts, which have been going on for five decades, have devastated the lives of the Sudanese population.

In addition to long-term programs supporting families and children, we also run emergency relief programs in areas badly affected by war and natural disasters. The emergency response program supports around 71,000 people.


Canadians wishing to help vulnerable children are encouraged to sponsor a child, sponsor an SOS Village or make a one-time donation. Your support will change the lives of orphaned, abandoned and other vulnerable children. Please help today.