The Bishop Mubarak Scholarship Fund for Nuba Women celebrated graduation of the first five university scholars from Ahfad University in Omdurman in April. A sixth BMF scholar will graduate from Ahlia University in July. All five Ahfad scholars are the first university graduates in their families. Speaking at the commencement ceremony, Ahfad President Gasim Badri, a Patron of the Bishop Mubarak Fund, thanked the British charity for its contribution to women’s education in Sudan.

The BMF was set up in 1996 in honour of Bishop Kurkeil Mubarak Khamis, late Episcopal Church of the Sudan Bishop of El-Obeid. Under the slogan "Power to the Powerless Through Education", the BMF works to raise the education level of Nuba women and children, over 90 percent of women are illiterate as the result of war, famine, displacement and lack of opportunity.

According to Dr. Lillian Craig Harris, BMF Director, during this coming year the BMF will sponsor 100 university scholarships for Nuba women and 60 basic and secondary scholarships for Nuba girls and will pay the salaries of 34 teachers in nine schools for the displaced. In July, the BMF will also enrol over 1500 Nuba women in so literacy classes spread from Khartoum to the Nuba Mountains. All BMF work is in Sudan and is coordinated through the Together for Peace Office of the Women’s Action Group in Khartoum.

"The Bishop Mubarak Fund believes in education as a human right", Dr. Harris said. "We also believe, as the Nuba themselves teach us, in the value of respecting those of different faiths and different ethnic backgrounds. For example, although the BMF is named in honour of a Christian Bishop, there are more BMF Muslim scholars at the university than BMF Christian scholars for the simple reason that there are more Muslim than Christian Nuba!" She added that even simple literacy can empower a woman to retrieve her dignity and that with basic reading and maths skills, women and girls can protect themselves in the market place, improve their employment prospects, read street signs and prescriptions, help their children with school work and begin to hope for the future.

A party held at Ahfad University on 2 May to celebrate the university scholars’ achievement was a celebration not just of the graduation but of hopes for Nuba unity, Dr. Harris said. She described Nuba community leaders, NGO workers and church personnel who attended the event and joined in the enthusiastic Nuba dancing as "filled with hope" by the recent cease-fire in the Nuba Mountains.

Contributions to the Bishop Mubarak Scholarship Fund for Nuba Women may be made to Norman Jackson, Treasurer, 47 Taunton Avenue, London SW20 OBH, UK.