In late 1996 Lillian Craig Harris, then living in Sudan where her husband, Alan Goulty, who was British Ambassador, decided to act on a long held desire to help disadvantaged women through university. Because perhaps 90 percent of the women of the Nuba Mountains are illiterate, she chose to focus on them and named the effort in honour of a recently deceased Episcopal clergyman, Bishop Kurkeil Mubarak Khamis of the Diocese of El Obeid. Her plan was limited: a handful of women would be sent to university and after they graduated a few more would take their places. Instead, the Nuba women’s great longing for education took over the project.
Before beginning the Bishop Mubarak Fund, Lillian had also facilitated establishment of the English Language Foundation, the Women’s Action Group for Peace and Development and Befrienders Khartoum (the Samaritans abroad) as well as various other small projects. After Lillian moved to London in 1999, Together for Sudan was set up to support these Sudanese charities and projects as well as to support the rapidly expanding work of the Bishop Mubarak Fund. A small solar project and medical work were subsumed under Together for Sudan and a slogan, “Building Peace through Service” was selected. A project centre, known for the next four years as the Together for Peace office, was opened in Khartoum in October 1998. In 2002 the Bishop Mubarak Fund was registered to work in Sudan as an international non-governmental organisation (INGO). BMF’s sister charity, Together for Sudan worked under that BMF umbrella until the two charities merged in January 2005. Together for Sudan, incorporating the Bishop Mubarak Fund’s work, is now registered with the Sudanese Humanitarian Affairs Commission as an INGO.
In January 2005 Together for Sudan opened its second project centre, in Kadugli the capital of the Nuba Mountains. In January 2006 we began, with partial funding from the British Department for International Development, a three year project which we are calling “Education for the Nuba”. Over the next three years we will train at least 60 women’s literacy teachers, 60 pre-school teachers and 60 basic school teachers and then place them with in-service training with local schools. This means that Together for Sudan will pay their salaries during the time it takes for them to complete their training. We expect that this pioneering project will eventually change the lives of thousands of women and children. The literacy teachers will be trained in the dynamic Reflect method which typically, in an eight or nine month intensive course, allows 80 percent of the students to become literate.
In mid 2005 Together for Sudan began looking for funding for a similar project which would expand our present educational work in the settlements for displaced persons around Khartoum. This became possible in 2006 thanks to the generosity of the Spanish charity Manos Unidas which as agreed to fund Together for Sudan training of literacy teachers and basic school teachers who are displaced persons in the Khartoum area. It is expected that many of the some two million displaced southerners and westerners in these areas will eventually return to their homelands. When they do so, men and women trained as teachers, children who have received at least a basic school education and women who have become literate will carry with them invaluable gifts for employment, a more secure future and the rebuilding of South and Western Sudan. In 2013, the charity was renamed to Women’s Education Partnership to reflect our work in both Sudan and South Sudan. The success of the Women’s Education Partnership can be attributed first to the Nuba women’s great desire for education. But it is also due to dedicated volunteers in Sudan who have set up projects, to Sudanese teachers who continue to work for low salaries, and to the great desire by the many people of good heart, both in Sudan and elsewhere, who have sought to help Sudan and its suffering people.