Focus: Frontline - Goal Kassala Reflect Programme

Georgina Lock,

WHAT IT IS: International humanitarian agency Goal's education project in Kassala, eastern Sudan.

WHAT IT DOES: Gives Muslim women the knowledge and skills they want, using a method called the Regenerated Freirean Literacy through Empowering Community Techniques (Reflect)

HOW IT'S FUNDED: Department for International Development and the US Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance

Before joining one of Goal's education projects, Marzuga Abdulkhair, 30, used to take her children to the traditional healer if they were sick. Since taking part in the Reflect circle, she takes them to a Goal primary healthcare clinic and has learnt the importance of having her children vaccinated.

Abdulkhair lives in Tarawa in Kassala State, an area with a long history of insecurity and disaster that accommodates waves of refugees and displaced Sudanese people fleeing war, drought and famine.

Learning methods

The Reflect learning method is used by various organisations in more than 60 countries. In Kassala State, Goal has set up 20 circles and is working with Solo, a Sudanese NGO that specialises in supporting groups of women. Each circle includes about 20 women who choose what topics they want to cover. Meeting for two hours a day, in the first year the participants learn basic skills such as understanding the causes of diseases and how to prevent them, and basic nutrition. They plan small projects with other circle members and have learnt the letters of the alphabet and a selection of words most useful to them. As the project grows and the women become more confident, they look beyond the circle to activities in the community.

Abdulkhair, who has two daughters and a son, joined the Reflect circle in Tarawa last September. She joined because she wanted to be educated - a year ago she couldn't read or write, but she has now learnt many useful words and can write them confidently. Abdulkhair is particularly pleased to have learnt some first aid, because it was something the women in her circle specifically requested.

She now takes a greater interest in her children's learning, knows something about nutrition and has started doing traditional beadwork, which she sells at the market. Before learning the skills in the circle, Abdulkhair said she could not have done such things. She is happy that the circle has helped her and now, along with other members in her group, she plans to set up a small enterprise project.

Angela Davis, Goal's area co-ordinator for eastern Sudan, describes Reflect as a "brilliant project" that gives greater confidence to women in communities that follow strict Islamic Sharia law.

The Reflect circles are just one part of Goal's work in Sudan, focusing on emergency response, recovery and development.

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