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Mubarak’s Lesson from the Front Lines

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Mubarak’s Lesson from the Front Lines

Posted by Stella Kenyi on July 9, 2009

As the coordinator for Darfur Dream Team Sister Schools program, Stella recently traveled to eastern Chad with Enough senior advisor Omer Ismail to conduct a rapid assessment in Djabal and Goz Amer, twin refugee camps located near the town of Goz Beida in eastern Chad. The information and testimonies they collected will be used to raise awareness about the plight of Darfuri refugees and devise the best ways for engaging with the students in the camps through the Sister Schools program.

On our first day in Djabal, we organized a meeting at the Centre de Jeunes, or Youth Center. With schools out for the summer, most students were already playing games, painting, and listening to music at the youth center or nearby, so it was easy to organize the meeting. More than 30 young boys and girls from the eight camp sectors were able to join us. As we discussed camp conditions and their future dreams, the students returned time and again to a central point: the need for quality primary and secondary education in the camps.

Our dialogue with the students continued for more than three hours and it was particularly sobering to listen to stories from children such as Mubarak*, a young Darfuri who learned the value of education the hard way. Mubarak and his mother arrived in Djabal camp five years ago, but Mubarak was a restless teen and constantly questioned camp life and circumstances he and his family found themselves in. Mubarak yearned to radically change the system so he joined the rebel movement. Quickly disillusioned by what he saw on the front lines, Mubarak returned to his family in Djabal camp. Although he was embarrassed that his peers had surpassed him in school, Mubarak enrolled again at primary level 3 (U.S. grade 3) in Djabal camp. This year, Mubarak hopes to complete primary level 6 at Sudan Djedid Primary School.

*Name has been changed.