Editor’s Note: Since the early 1900s countries around the world have celebrated International Women’s Day as a time to recognize the role of women in society and mobilize against injustices specifically impacting half of the world’s population. At Enough, rather than confining our commemoration to just one day—March 8—we’re giving a special focus to women all this week, to highlight how the conflicts we’re working to end affect women and girls, and to recognize the work of heroes advocating on their behalf.
For Day 2 of our International Women’s Week coverage, Meghan Higginbotham of Enough’s Darfur Dream Team profiled one of the inspiring young teachers she met in a refugee camp in eastern Chad.
Meet Busseina. She is a smart student with a bubbly personality and a determination to break barriers. She is also an excellent soccer player.
A girl who plays soccer may not seem so remarkable, but Busseina isn’t just any girl—she’s a Darfuri refugee living in Djabal camp in eastern Chad. And the girls in these refugee camps don’t typically get to play soccer; they are busy with school, household chores, and family responsibilities. Busseina stands out.
After she completed her primary education at Sultan Tadjadine school, 18-year-old Busseina began attending the secondary school and was offered the opportunity to become a teacher at her alma mater, an honor and responsibility she does not take lightly. Busseina now teaches three morning classes at Sultan Tadjadine—level 2, level 3, and level 5. In the afternoons, she attends her own classes at the secondary school.
While visiting Djabal refugee camp in December for the Darfur Dream Team, I had the privilege to not only meet Busseina, but also her family, and to watch her teaching her students. It was truly inspiring to witness a woman younger than myself, with much less education, rein in a classroom of 45 boys to teach an English lesson without so much as one interruption from a student.
A lack of qualified and trained teachers is one of the greatest challenges to providing education for the Darfuri refugees. All of the teachers in Djabal camp are refugees themselves. Some were trained as teachers before they were displaced, but most are qualified simply because they attained have a minimum level of education. Like Busseina, many of the primary school teachers also attend or teach at the secondary school.
In this video, Busseina and her sister Mouna talk about their classes and offer a peek into a level 5 English lesson at Sultan Tadjadine school in Djabal refugee camp:
Busseina talks openly about wanting to give back to her community in the best way possible. Right now, that means teaching in the primary school, but she has bigger dreams.
Busseina wants to be a doctor. To do so, she will have to overcome many obstacles, the first of which will be to complete her secondary education. Busseina told me that she wants to achieve her goal of becoming a doctor before she gets married—a feat she would have to accomplish against all odds. Seeing how much she has achieved so far, I believe she can do it because she is determined and deliberate about her future.
Busseina’s dream of becoming a doctor reflects the aspirations of hundreds of thousands of Darfuri girls just like her who have been displaced because of the conflict and yet whose dreams stretch well beyond the dreary confines of a camp in a foreign country. And in honor of International Women’s Day I am glad to have this opportunity to share and celebrate the achievements of women and girls like Busseina. Despite the losses she and her family have suffered and the barriers she still faces, Busseina is hopeful of the future and eager to make her mark on the world.
Photo: Busseina (i-ACT)
Read the other posts in this International Women's Week series.