London — Patricia Parker, the Chief Executive and Founder of UK charity Kids for Kids, has been made an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) by Queen Elizabeth II of Britain, for her work over the past 20 years helping children in Darfur. The Queen's official birthday is traditionally celebrated on the second Saturday of June in the UK.
Kids for Kids is still the only charity created specifically to help the forgotten children of Darfur. It has been previously listed in the top three UK charities for the International Development Charity of the Year at the UK Charity Awards.
"This is a fantastic honour to receive" said Patricia. "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. When I first went to Darfur 20 years ago with my son, who was working at the British Embassy, I was shocked to find how children were living. Even friends in Khartoum had not realised how bad conditions had become. 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.
Queen Elizabeth II (UK MoD)
"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.
"I've been delighted at the commitment of the new government of Sudan to end the conflict in Darfur and to make a priority of poverty instead of only focussing on national security. That is crucial if Sudan is to make a reality of sustainable development and build the future prosperity everyone in Sudan deserves."
Parker says that since 2001, Kids for Kids has helped over 550,000 people and has introduced our integrated projects to 106 villages in North Darfur, Sudan, creating a sustainable and lasting change."
Patricia says: "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."
OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire)
Patricia Parker was previously awarded the MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) in the New Year's Honours List 1998, for her contribution as a volunteer for Marie Curie Cancer Care, and other charities. In 2001 she founded Kids for Kids following a trip to Darfur, when she saw first-hand the hardship children there were having to endure. Kids for Kids is still the only charity created specifically to help the forgotten children of Darfur. It has been previously listed in the top three UK charities for the International Development Charity of the Year at the UK Charity Awards. The OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) is a higher rank in the order than the MBE.