Dorking charity founder receives Queen’s Birthday Honour
Patricia Parker MBE, the Chief Executive and Founder of Kids for Kids, a Dorking-based charity, has been awarded an OBE by Her Majesty The Queen for her dedicated work helping children in Darfur over the past 20 years.
Receiving news of the OBE, Patricia said: “This is a fantastic honour to receive, I can hardly believe that Darfur is being honoured in this way. It is certainly one I never expected. Darfur is one of the most forgotten regions of the world.”
Patricia was inspired to help the children living in this region of Sudan following a visit to Dafur some 20 years ago with her son, Alastair King-Smith, who was working at the British Embassy. Patricia was shocked to find how children were living.
She says: “The level of deprivation was beyond imagining, and sadly it has hardly changed in all this time. Water is the most basic essential for us all, yet children were walking hour upon hour across the desert under the unforgiving sun to reach a simple handpump, because there was no water anywhere near their homes. Yet under Darfur there is one of the biggest aquifers in Africa. The big aid agencies were there but no one was drilling for water near villages. That was 20 years ago, and it is still the same, 20 years on. Many villages have no water, or electricity, no health care for humans or animals – virtually no infrastructure of any kind, even roads. In fact they have almost none of the things we would all consider the basic essentials of life.”
Upon returning from Dafur, Patricia was inspired to do something to help. She founded the charity Kids for Kids and, since 2001, the charity has helped over 550,000 people, introducing their integrated projects to 106 villages in North Darfur, Sudan, creating a sustainable and lasting change.
Their on-the-ground projects all have a focus of providing the local people with the means to improve their own circumstances, whether it be setting up kindergartens, goat or donkey loans, providing household items, clean water equipment, midwife, paravet or first aid training or planting trees to turn the desert green.
Upon receiving news of the Queen’s Birthday Honour, Patricia commented: “This honour means that Darfur is not forgotten. It means that what Kids for Kids has been doing quietly, out of sight of the world, has at last been noticed. The children in Darfur are no longer forgotten.”
She went on to say: “Of course, this is a collective effort. The most important people are the villagers themselves. Kids for Kids works through the locally-registered Kids for Kids Steering Committee under the Chairmanship of Adam Sebil in North Darfur, who bring village representatives together to run the projects we support. In each village we train a village development committee, an animal loan committee and – crucially as it is the children who look after the goats and donkeys – a children’s shepherds committee.
“We work in partnership with the North Darfur State Government, such as the Ministry of Health and School for Training Midwives, the Ministries of Agriculture and Animal Resources to train our paravets and grow seedlings for community forests plus the Water and Sanitation Department who drill our handpumps. We have received fantastic support from our Patrons, including successive British Ambassadors to Khartoum and Sudanese Ambassadors to London. But none of our work would be possible without our volunteers, particularly our voluntary chairman in Khartoum, Hatim Abu Sineina, and our voluntary Honorary Treasurer, Omer Shomeina, who work tirelessly, with no recompense, to make a difference in Sudan. I thank them with all my heart.”
The charity Kids for Kids is supported by people of all ages, many of them small children who realise that they can make a difference to children their own age. Yet, what they all have in common, is that they understand how important it is to enable people to help themselves. What makes a real difference is taking time to find out about people’s lives and working with them to identify solutions. Kids for Kids constantly amends their approach to make their projects even more truly sustainable, year-on-year.
Patricia concluded: “This amazing recognition from Her Majesty The Queen will mean that Kids for Kids will be able to do even more to transform the lives of children. I am incredibly proud that I should be honoured in this way, that Kids for Kids should be recognised, and most important of all, that the children of Darfur are recognised. Let’s see what we can do in the next 20 years!”
If you would like to learn more about Kids for Kids and support the charity, visit their website: www.kidsforkids.org.uk.