About fifteen minutes before it’s time to start our drive from Kou Kou to Goz Beida, by pure luck I happen to see a tweet in French:
— Ndjamena-matin (@Ndoune) January 17, 2013
Part of what it said, according to google-translate, was:
According to our respondents, thirty tanks and several pickup belonging to Deby’s troops arrived in the area of Goz Beida in eastern Chad. The situation remains unclear in this locality are rumors of renewed fighting between the army and the forces of national liberation Chad.
The resumption of fighting is almost imminent in Chad.
A little worrying. It’s been a while since there’s been major fighting in Chad. It used to be a regular occurrence. For the first three years since I started coming out in 2005, it was part of the Chad experience, knowing that Chadian rebels could cross the border at any time and start taking villages up and down the east of the country — and even go for N’Djamena. We were stuck in some tight situations!
It has calmed down drastically since 2009, so it was a surprise to read the little blog post about troop movements and “imminent” fighting in Chad. I talked with some from our group and then with UNHCR staff. There was no mention of fighting in Chad in any major or even minor news source, and UNHCR believed it was routine troop movement, so on we went to Goz Beida.
We were in a big convoy with an armed escort, a Toyota truck with four soldiers hanging on in the back, leading the way. After rainy season, the bumpy road made for a slow drive, but we had great conversations and saw beautiful people, blue birds, goofy camels, and large fields of sorghum. There are also many striking looking trees with red trunks. A driver told us that they are the ones from which gum arabica is taken. Gum arabica is a main ingredient in Coca-Cola, Coke!
We made it to Goz Beida in an hour and forty-five minutes. I’ve made that same drive in less than forty-five. We soon had to go present ourselves to the region’s governor. That was a good sign, to know that he was still there, since they are the first ones to usually flee, if fighting is coming. We met with him, and he welcomed us to the region and talked about the history of humanitarian operations in Chad and particularly in Goz Beida. It was all in French, so my mind drifted at times, but I got a sense for what he was saying.
It’s a short drive from Goz Beida to Camp Djabal. We arrived at one of the schools, where a couple dozen teachers were waiting for us. It was nice to see my friend Abdulaziz along with so many other familiar faces. It was a good meeting, where the teachers talked about the challenges related to education in the camp. They stressed how important preschools were to them, and they also talked repeatedly about the lack of opportunity to move on to a University, “Not one refugee has graduated from a university in the last nine year!”
From there we moved to the secondary school and got to listen to students. There is an almost palpable sense of frustration, of being stuck with no chance to continue growing. Students read from speeches they had written. They all said that their current education is lacking in so many areas and that they have nowhere to go after high school. In one of these classrooms I found Rahma and Murtada, and they talked, looking and sounding serious and formal. But, the Rahma smile would flash through now and then, when I would look at him.
Visiting Rahma’s home is alway fun. His siblings and extended family welcome us warmly and with big smiles. It was sad to see where Rahma’s hut used to be. It burnt down in December, and he lost all of his possessions. Also lost was the mobile library that he takes around the schools. On this trip, we brought some replacement Kindles and talking dictionaries, but so much more was lost. The Human Rights Watch Student Task Force is working on replacing all the material. Rahma was so happy that I’olani School in Hawaii sent him support, including t-shirts, maps, and more. He sends his thanks to HRW STF, ‘Iolani, and everyone that has helped. He said, “They are my best friends!”
We then went to visit Guisma’s home, and I won’t write too much about them because I’ll later do a separate post about this beautiful family. It was sad to see the children look thinner and all wearing the same clothes they had on during my last visit in December. Their mom Achta also looked thin and even sad. The loss of her mother hit her hard, and life has been difficult without her husband Adef being around. The seven-month-old baby, Abdulai, was the one that did look healthy and so, so happy. He makes eye contact and engages, smiles and laughs. He is still breastfeeding, and that makes all the difference.
There are so many needs, and it can all feel overwhelming, but there are also so many opportunities. We have to go at it and be creative and…do!
As the new school year begins across the United States and in the Darfur refugee camps in Eastern Chad, our i-ACT team is busy revamping and launching new programs!
Partnership with Darfur Dream Team Sister Schools Program
|This year i-ACT and the Darfur Dream Team will be partnering to develop new resources that teachers, schools, and clubs can use to educate their communities while continuing to fundraise for primary school education in refugee camps Djabal and Goz Amer. Currently there are over 325 schools supporting twelve refugee schools. The U.S. students and teachers use pazocalo.org to develop deep and meaningful relationships with their peers in the camps.|
|Little Ripples, i-ACT’s early childhood education program, is really lifting off the ground! Alongside basic cognitive development, the program will focus on peace-building and compassion. We hope to launch the pilot phase in early 2013 for 400 students in Camp Goz Amer. In the meantime, we will conduct a baseline study, start construction, and begin outreach to potential teachers. Our team of mostly volunteers has created a solid curriculum and continues to look at models and resources for inspiration. Download this presentation or visit the Little Ripples webpage to find out more.|
|After an extremely busy Spring which saw the first ever Darfur United goal at the Viva World Cup for nationless people, our players have returned to their camps. Our next step is establishing the Darfur United Academy. Many of the original team players have started to teach their peers and younger players what they learned from Coaches Mark, Ben, and Brian. Check out the Darfur United Academy overview and ways to support it! Additionally, we have limited edition ‘M Haggar’ jerseys to honor the goal scorer – get yours today!|
Right to Education Mobile Human Rights Library
|The R2E library took a break from rotating between schools over the summer, which is the rainy season in Chad. Rahma and Umda Tarbosh will continue to tour the library between schools once school resumes in October for at least a year. We are looking for schools, libraries, and other groups to help keep the library running and to bring more Kindles to the camps. Please contact Katie-Jay at email@example.com if you are interested!|
If you are interested in getting involved in any of our projects, please contact us. Email Katie-Jay at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our team of global volunteers is always looking for more dedicated members!
Dear Gabriel, here is the report about the women’s rights in my community.
Women in my community suffer discrimination, negligence and injustice, although she is the most productive part of this community. From the first day of her birth to the family, some families have not celebrate as they do for the baby boys. After she got seven years old, she stands with different responsibilities. Most of them have no chances to schooling as boys have. In her teens, the family will be ready to marry her if some one asked. Most of the girls got married without their knowledge. They must except any husband her father agreed to. Housewife has lots of daily duties. Early in the morning she prepares tea and food, washes the children, sends them to schools or gives them their duties. She gets water and washes every dirty clothes at home. She gathers firewoods, goes to work for money, or to the farm. In the evening, she cooks for the family. Every year women produces more than half of many families’ income.
Thank you, Adam
Photos of women in Camp Djabal, taken by Adam:
Teacher Abdulaziz is excited about the R2E Library and is going in to high gear to help us find the right librarian. He said that this program is very important, so the person that will manage it at the camp has to be good. We agreed that the number one trait for the librarian has to be responsibility. The librarian will have to commit to working at the schools every school day in collaboration with the teachers. He or she will be taking care of equipment and material that needs to stay in good conditions, and this is no small task in dusty, windy, hot camp Djabal. The librarian must also speak English, since the library is to teach about human rights and English. Being good, kind, and patient with kids is also a must. Abdulaziz told me that he will have five candidates for us to consider tomorrow. I’m looking forward to it!
Hello! My name is Patricia Bitar and I am an intern for the Human Rights Watch Student Task Force (STF). Launched
in 1999, STF is fundamentally about students advocating for children’s rights. It is a youth leadership-training program that brings together high school students from all over Los Angeles and empowers them to advocate for human rights issues that concern the rights of children.
The STF teachers work in partnership with us as STF interns to mentor students in leadership skills and activism, enabling them to become effective voices for change and social justice within their communities.
We are currently working with 13 high schools all over L.A. to promote this year’s campaign: the Right to Education. As we educate our students about human rights, we are partnering with i-ACT Directors Gabriel Stauring and Katie J Scott and Darfuri refugees to create two Mobile Libraries for refugee students at two camps along the Chad’s boarder with Sudan. STF chapters will create educational materials and fundraise almost $3000 to create the Mobile Libraries which will consist of E-books, tables, mats, dictionaries, chairs, a donkey, and a librarian. The libraries will travel between schools in the camps on two donkeys.
Along with raising money, the STF members will research appropriate resources and materials and will be in contact with refugee students as they explore what the Right to Education means and what the reality is for other youth around the world where education is a matter of life and death.
As a student in International Relations at the University of California San Diego, I feel privileged to be working with HRW and I-Act, an outstanding team of hard-working, inspiring, and intelligent people! I am very excited to see what the New Year brings as we raise awareness and partnerships between L.A. School districts and Darfuri Refugees!
Photos from the HRW Student Task Force September Leadership Conference:
There are so many challenges and obstacles for the refugees to have full, healthy, and dignified lives. The obvious one, they should not be refugees. That status is to give them protection under international law, but it is also a limitation, with a horizon that is only as far as the camp’s boundaries.
There are also so many opportunities: the leader that will not give up; the child that wants to be an engineer; the teacher that wants to learn about human rights and then teach about human rights; the mother that works all day and makes sure her daughter goes to school; the aid worker that builds schools against many odds and fights to keep the kids coming; so many more.
We, the international community, have promised support and protection to populations displaced by violence. Have we lived up to that promise and responsibility?