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Kamilia Kura: Relentless in Empowering Displaced Women

Kamilia Kura; photo source http://www.flickr.com/photos/operation1325/5117153609/in/photostream/

Kamilia Kura is a community leader and a mother. She is a human rights defender, a devoted Christian and a brave woman with a loving heart. She has chosen to stand by the vulnerable since she was a teenager.

Kamilia is the founder and Executive director of Nuba Women for Education and Development Association (NuWEDA). She dreams about a Sudan that respects the diversity of its own people. She hopes for people to live in peace and dignity and to be treated as Sudanese citizens not according to their ethnic, religious, regional and gender identities. She says “I want the old days of Sudan to revive; when people were just Sudanese”

She was born on 1969 to Christian parents in Kadugli; the capital of South Kordofan state. Kamilia’s father decided to sell his flock of cows and move to Khartoum seeking a better life for his family. They migrated to Khartoum when she was an infant. She was raised in the church and volunteered to teach at Sunday schools since she was 14 years old.

Kamilia kept her eyes on attending the university and not have the same fate that most of her peers face; getting married and have children before reaching high school. Her family was willing to get her married soon after she graduated from intermediate school. The bishop Butrus Kura; her uncle and role model saved her by demanding that her father allow her to attend high school. The Bishop Butrus was supporting girls’ education; he advised many families which came to the church to allow their girls to attend high school, and many husbands to allow their wives to attend the university.
Kamilia is keeping her uncle’s favor and wishes all the girls could access higher education. She got married after high school and moved to Nigeria with her husband where she got a diploma on community psychosocial intervention from Saint Jose State University on 1996.

On 1997, Kamilia was back to Sudan while the civil war in the south was raging between the government and Sudan People’s Liberation Army Movement. Hundreds of thousands of displaced persons were arriving in Khartoum. She talked to her friend Fatima Sulieman "We need to do something for our mothers and sisters who escaped the war to Khartoum" Along with one of the church elders; they have mobilized people to join them, conducted meetings, collected donations and provided humanitarian relief. On 2002, the group was registered as a nonprofit organization under the name Nuba Women for Education and Development Association (NuWEDA) to access grants that maintain the sustainability of their services and widen their community outreach. It kept growing and its mandate extended beyond providing humanitarian assistance to advocating for women’s rights, peace, building the capacities of women and youth through education, training on development related issues and awareness raising.

Threats by government security agents have always accompanied the work of Kamilia as a leader of a non-registered group and as an executive director of NuWEDA. Community based initiatives in the 1990’s were very limited; additionally most of the IDPs were coming from the war zones in South Sudan, Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile. The authorities in Khartoum regard them as rebels and spies and everybody who helps them as having a relation to the rebel groups. Till now the authorities are not keeping good intentions in the work of national civil society and Kamilia is subjected regularly to harassment and interrogations.

Changing social norms that violate women's rights, such as domestic violence and lack of women’s control over their bodies, is the challenge that NuWEDA has taken on. Kamilia was labeled by conservative men in displaced communities for spreading immoralities through educating women about family planning and inciting them against domestic violence.

Girls’ and women’s education is NuWEDA’s missing key to empowering and securing women lives and well being through offering them better job opportunities, and a better life with choices. While NuWEDA is raising the community awareness by girls' education, public higher education is so expensive for most of the displaced families which are struggling with earning the daily living. NuWEDA is willing to run a program for sponsoring displaced women and girls’ university education. They have been seeking funds for this program for the past 5 years, although they couldn’t receive enough funds for the program launch.

In June, 2011, the civil war broke out again in South Kordofan region between the government and Sudan People’s Liberation Army/North. Bombardments of Kadugli and more than 40 towns, limited access to food, high incidents of rape by government militias, arbitrary arrests and forced military recruitment of women has made life terrible for families and forced 300,000-400,000 persons either to flee to Khartoum or seek refuge in South Sudan. Displaced families are living in poverty and women are heading the households. The majority has limited professional skills which leave them with limited and highly competitive employment opportunities like domestic work. There is no legislation protecting the rights of domestic workers by defining minimum wage, working hours, leaves and end of service benefits. NuWEDA is coordinating an economic empowerment program with other civil society organizations with the purpose of organizing displaced women in cooperatives to advance their economic status through savings, acquaint them with small business skills, improve their access to loans and form a sort of informal trade union.

Kamilia believes in empowering women to advance the status of displaced communities; her vision drove the formation of NuWEDA. The people’s needs for assistance have inspired her to form a group of volunteers, and then build a nonprofit organization. She finds the motive and legitimacy of her work from the people she serves.

This article is part of a writing assignment for Voices of Our Future a program of World Pulse that provides rigorous digital media and citizen journalism training for grassroots women leaders. World Pulse lifts and unites the voices of women from some of the most unheard regions of the world.

The way from Kadugli to Khartoum & South Sudan as predicted by Google Maps

Comments

pelamutunzi's picture

hero

kamila is a hero and must be applauded for her work. girls education is very important and deserves to be taken seriously. giving back to the community is noble and i applaud kamila for her selfless work. also economically empowering women makes them even better leaders and they are able to also send their children to school.
thank you for writing this story it has been truly inspirational.

we may be powerless to stop an injustice but let there never be a time we fail to protest.
regards
pela

Yosra Akasha's picture

Thank you Pela, yes Kamilia

Thank you Pela, yes Kamilia is a shero and inspiring person for a lot of young men and women including myself. I loved your expression "we may be powerless to stop an injustice but let there never be a time we fail to protest"

Yosra Akasha, Sudan

Greengirl's picture

Hi Yosra

Kamila has such an inspiring background and I am sure Sudanese women would be proud of you for showcasing her to the world.

Thank you for sharing such a loaded profile of a rare model!

Best wishes,
Greengirl

Yosra Akasha's picture

Hi Greengirl

Thank you I'm honored for knowing Kamilia

Yosra Akasha, Sudan

Klaudia Mexico's picture

Educate girls!!!

If we educate our gils our future will be very different!! thanks life to brave women like Kamilia.

Klaudia González

Yosra Akasha's picture

Thank you Klaudia for being

Thank you Klaudia for being passionate about women rights and girls' education

Yosra Akasha, Sudan

Y's picture

Well done, Yosra! Blessings

Well done, Yosra!
Blessings to you.
Keep up the good work.
Yvette

Y

Yosra Akasha's picture

Thanks Y

I wouldn't do it without your help.
Much appreciations

Yosra Akasha, Sudan

Deqa's picture

Awesome choice

Such a determination by a very strong lady. Definitely an awesome choice Yosra.
You have told her story very well.
Regards
Deqa

Yosra Akasha's picture

Thanks Deqa, Happy to know

Thanks Deqa, Happy to know that you liked the story. I'm one of your fans

Yosra Akasha, Sudan

JaniceW's picture

Compelling interview

Thank you for sharing Kamilia's story with us. She has great challenges ahead but has obviously made great inroads in the area of women's rights.

You started off the interview strong and I loved the inclusion of the quote “I want the old days of Sudan to revive; when people were just Sudanese”. I would have liked to read a little more about Kamilia and the work from her perspective. Towards the end, you focussed more on the work of NuWEDA and did not reference Kamilia as much. As Kamilia was the subject of the interview, perhaps you could have added a quote in regards to the education and empowerment programs so as to keep the reader mindful of what the article is about, i.e. Kamilia.

All in all, you provided great context to the interview and chose your subject well.

Yosra Akasha's picture

I agree with you Janice

thanks Janice for your valuable comment. I was trying to reflect that although Kamilia is the founder of NuWEDA and her vision on advancing women and the community as general was translated into projects and activities implemented by NuWEDA. NuWEDA is a group of people who were mobilized and influenced by Kamilia and became active in challenging and changing the status quo. I'm agreeing with you totally; after I've read it once again I realized that I've focused on NuWEDA and haven't quote Kamilia in some paragraphs. I'll consider your advise in in the future.

Thank you once again.

Best,

Yosra Akasha, Sudan

anab87j9's picture

This is amazing Yosra! Good

This is amazing Yosra! Good job in highlighting Kamilia. It is very important for people to know about the great role women are playing in improving the lives of others, and how the government is standing in their way.

Love,

Anab

Yosra Akasha's picture

Thanks Anab; women are the

Thanks Anab; women are the drivers of change in Sudan

Yosra Akasha, Sudan

Aminah's picture

An inspiring community leader.

Often times when women become activists, they are labelled as immoral and sometimes satanic too.
From what you have shared about Kamilia it is evident that she herself has been blamed for spreading immoralities through educating women about family planning and empowering them to stand against domestic abuse.

I wish her and NuWEDA all the success it rightly deserves. Thank you Yosra, for bringing Kamilia to us.

Salaam
Aminah

Yosra Akasha's picture

Thanks Aminah. The struggle

Thanks Aminah. The struggle for women rights is very common, so success stories deserve to be highlighted.
Best regards,

Yosra Akasha, Sudan

libudsuroy's picture

Dear Yosra, Thank you for

Dear Yosra, Thank you for bringing to the fore this educator-activist who has dedicated her life to empowering women and youth through thick and thin, peacetime or wartime via alternative learning programs. Indeed, it must be difficult to separate the personal from the organizational aspects of this woman. Kamilia becomes NuWEDA and NuWEDA becomes Kamilia.
You have described to us a brave, selfless and forward-looking woman.

Blessings,
libudsuroy/Lina Sagaral Reyes
Mindanao, The Philippines

''Every Day is a Journey and the Journey itself is Home.'' (Matsuo Basho)

Yosra Akasha's picture

Thank you Libudsuroy, and yes

Thank you Libudsuroy, and yes it was difficult to seperate her personality from the work she is doing

Yosra Akasha, Sudan

Iryna's picture

My big respect

The situation in Sudan is very difficult, and you need to be a very strong woman and person to keep an optimism and try to change it. My big respect to Kamilia and to you, Yosra, for raising up your voices! Keep strong!
Greetings from Ukraine,
Iryna

Yosra Akasha's picture

Thanks Iryna for your support

Thanks Iryna for your support and understanding to the complexity of the situation in Sudan, Kamilia is my role model and I'm trying to be as strong as her.

Blessings,

Yosra Akasha, Sudan

Sarah Whitten-Grigsby's picture

Wow, Yosra!

Thank you, Yosra, for this highly informative, excellent piece of work.

Kamilia sounds like a magnificent advocate for the rights of girls and women in Sudan, and your closing sentence is a testament to that and a clear explanation of where she gathers ongoing inspiration in the face of such difficult odds; that she finds her motive and legitimacy in those she serves.

I also note that there's a male hero (WOW!) in here, in the form of Bishop Butrus Kura, who advocated for education for women. Now that's a refreshing change!

I have only known one other person who is in the "psychosocial" field, so I was also interested to read that reference.

So, thank you for all your work -- and that of your triad -- in producing this very professional piece.

- Sarah

Yosra Akasha's picture

Thank you Sara, I'm glad to

Thank you Sara, I'm glad to notice that you got the main points of the whole piece. I'm honored by knowing Kamilia and very thankful to Yvette and Amy for their great support and encouragement.

Best regards,

Yosra Akasha, Sudan

Lehner's picture

Dear Yosra, You wrote a very

Dear Yosra,

You wrote a very inspiring and powerful piece about Kamilia Kura.
Brave!

Monica Lehner

Yosra Akasha's picture

Thanks Monica, I'm glad that

Thanks Monica, I'm glad that you have found Kamilia's story inspiring.

Blessings,

Yosra Akasha, Sudan

nasreenamina's picture

Dear Yosra Thank you very

Dear Yosra

Thank you very much for letting us know this inspirational story that show us that everyone can do something for the improvement of others. Not always we have the chance to know what women in other countries are doing to empower themselves. You highlight a serious problem but at the same time you highlight a powerful solution that is: organization.

One's life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others, by means of love, friendship, indignation and compassion

Follow me @DivinaFeminista

Yosra Akasha's picture

Thank you Nasreen

Indeed. we can make change that we have never witness. We are enjoying the fruits of efforts made by older generations and we should pay back now and then.

Yosra Akasha, Sudan

Maura Bogue's picture

Great Job!

Great work on your first module! You included a lot of really great details that are important to the story. I loved it!

Next time, try starting with a narrative lead. In other words, tell a small story about your subject in your first paragraph. That will be a good way to entice your readers from the start.

Great work!

Best,
Maura

Yosra Akasha's picture

Thank you Maura

I'm happy that you loved it. This was the first time for me to write a profile. I've enjoyed the process and I'll try to make it better next time. On the 2nd module I'll be using a narrative lead and I think it is working :)

Yosra Akasha, Sudan

Zoepiliafas's picture

Refugee

I would love to get this woman's contact info to discuss internet access in refugee areas.

Your pieces does a great job of laying from historical context for the reader that may not know anything about the war in Sudan and its history.

I was moved in the beginning by her quote: “I want the old days of Sudan to revive; when people were just Sudanese”

I would to read more on this religious divide and women's perspective on how to bring understanding and begin the healing through conflict resolution.

Thank you for all your work on writing this piece!

Zoe Piliafas

Voices of Our Future Community Manager
World Pulse

Yosra Akasha's picture

Thrilled

Dear Zoe,

I'm thrilled to know that you found the piece informative about the war religious division and women engagement in social change and even more by knowing that you will be in touch with Kamilia. I'll send you an email with her contacts details.

Thank you for giving us the platform and the tools to tell our stories.

Best regards,

Yosra Akasha, Sudan

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