DJABAL REFUGEE CAMP, Chad — I have just five days left in Chad. In a few weeks, I'll be sharing an interactive trip diary with written entries, photos, and videos documenting my first visit to the Darfuri refugee camps in eastern Chad. Until then, here is a brief update on our team’s first few days.
I'm traveling with three members from Darfur Dream Team partner organization i-ACT; Gabriel Stauring is the team leader, and this is his 11th trip to the Darfuri refugee camps since 2005, so many of the refugees remember him well. Jeremiah Forest and Jordan Lake are both shooting video and taking photos. We spent a day in N'Djamena visiting the UNHCR offices, registering with the local police department, and getting our permits to travel to the east and take photographs, so I'm officially registered as a journalist in Chad!
This video captured our arrival and first impressions in Goz Amer camp:
We spent the weekend in Goz Amer refugee camp, where DDT is implementing education funds in 2012. Goz Amer is the closest to the border with Sudan and has some of the highest needs for education support of the 12 Darfuri refugee camps in eastern Chad. What I saw at the schools and heard from students, teachers, and UNHCR staff confirmed the tremendous amount of need in this particular camp. The many challenges Darfuri refugees still face after eight years in the camps are great. In terms of education alone, challenges,include insufficient classroom space, chalkboards, textbooks, workbooks, qualified teachers, and teaching materials for the more than 6,000 primary school students. In 2012 DDT funds will start addressing these gaps and improving the quality of education in Goz Amer.
Here’s a glimpse at some of the other exciting moments in Goz Amer:
Tonight I’m writing from Djabal refugee camp. The difference between how the schools look and feel in Djabal, versus Goz Amer, are evident: The atmosphere is more like a school, students have more resources, and teachers appear less overwhelmed. Seeing the initial impact that DDT funds have had in Djabal excites me for what we have planned for education improvements in Goz Amer. We still have work to do in Djabal, but it is inspiring and motivating to see the impact of the Sister Schools program in the year and a half we’ve been working in the camp.
Over the next couple of days the team will be visiting the six primary schools here and meeting with students, teachers, and UNHCR staff to assess the impact of DDT funds so far and learn about the continued needs in Djabal. I hope you’ll follow the remainder of the trip. We’re posting updates on the Darfur Dream Team Facebook wall daily, and there’s a whole collection of great clips shot by i-ACT posted on Vimeo. And keep your questions coming… One of the highlights of this visit has been sharing the thoughts and questions of Darfur Dream Team supporters with the students here.