£50,000 floods in after EDP's Sudan appeal

Hard hitting: the EDP’s appeal struck a chord with local people

The Eastern Daily Press has raised £50,000 in just one week after it launched an appeal to help an orphanage in Sudan.

The Norwich-based daily began its campaign the day before the Disasters Emergency Appeal launched a nationwide bid to help the crisis-hit Darfur region of the country.

The EDP is raising cash to help an orphanage in the capital, Khartoum, which has 260 babies and where the mortality rate is up to 75 per cent a year.

While regional newspapers tend to concentrate on helping local charities the EDP has a reputation for tackling international appeals. In the past it has launched campaigns to help people in Bosnia and Romania.

Deputy editor James Ruddy explained: “The world is a big place and local papers have got a huge interest in their local market, but the local market wants to know about and get involved in the rest of the world as well.

“For about the last 10 years we have worked with a charity called Hope and Homes based in Salisbury. They told me about the problems at this orphanage about two months ago and since then we’ve been working to build the story up into a charity campaign.”

Since starting the appeal with a poster front on Monday July 19, the cash has flooded in. Donations have ranged from cheques for £5,000 from businessmen, to pocket money sent in by schoolchildren.

“We always expect to get a good response but this has been fantastic – we have literally had people phoning up in tears,” said Ruddy. “People have helped us because what we are aiming to do is achievable. They can get down to individual issues about particular children.”

The EDP is working with the charity to rehouse the children from the Khartoum orphanage with foster families in Sudan. The institution has been compared with the worst Romanian orphanages set up during the Ceausescu regime.

Children who survive the ordeal of being brought up there are often left mentally or physically handicapped for life, Ruddy said.

Cash from the EDP appeal has already been used to find a home for one child who was found abandoned in a plastic bag on the banks of the Nile. It has been estimated that it costs £200 to help each child.

Ruddy said: “We’ve always tried to have a mix of international and local appeals. We also like to pick appeals where we know we can get a result.”

The EDP coverage has so far been put together through contacts with staff from Hope and Homes who are out in Khartoum. But Ruddy said the paper plans to send a team out to Sudan to report on how the appeal money has been spent.

By Dominic Ponsford

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