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Refugee camps and schools in Chad

I recently visited Chad and saw firsthand the work Concern Worldwide is doing there. In my last blog, I wrote about the effects of poverty on Chadians. As I travelled to Goz Baida, I gained further insight into the many difficulties and struggles facing people in Chad.

Goz Baida is host to Sudanese refugees who fled from Darfur during the conflict. While I was there, I visited a Sudanese refugee camp called Djabal which is home to over 10,000 refugees. 

Chad has had almost eight years’ experience in dealing with the influx of refugees. Services such as health centres, water and food supplies are available in the camps since they are provided by the international community. The problem for the local Chadians is that practically none of these services are available in their villages.

Trade-off

Many displaced people have already returned to their villages. A number of people I spoke to talked about the trade-off between being back home within close proximity to their land and family, but without services like health, water and education which were provided in the camps. It is a difficult choice. 

We are trying to help people in this situation by making their return home easier by providing vital seeds so that they can again become self-sufficient. We are also providing water close to their villages. In 2011, Concern will construct 19 boreholes – each with a simple treadle pump – to bring clean water to the surface.  

Desire for education

Parents usually want a better life for their children. This is as true in Chad as it is in the wealthiest of countries. The hunger for education in Chad is strong although the capacity to deliver quality education is limited. 

I visited a primary school in the village of Arangou, just outside of Goz Baida. It was built in 1990 but still has only four classrooms and four teachers. One “classroom” is simply two plastic sheets with some straw. There is no furniture in any of the classrooms – children sit on the floor with slates and chalk. In one classroom, I witnessed over 80 children being taught by one teacher. These children’s thirst for education is tangible.  

Dark reality

In the evenings it gets dark around 6.30, but I witnessed groups of children gathering outside offices to make use of the security lights so they could do their homework. There is no electricity in their homes and no paraffin lights strong enough for them to practise their reading or writing – so they have to resort to sitting under tube lights on the walls or streets. It’s sad, but this is the reality many children in the developing world face on a daily basis. Large class sizes, little or no furniture, few resource materials and little opportunities to study in the evenings.