Tuesday, September 11, 2007

By Elizabeth Sung, Consultant for CCF-Chad

Dear Readers:

The clouds have amassed in the sky, the guards' radio sings faintly in the background while our hens cluck in the yard. It has been a productive day at the office, as we have been planning activities for the next month with the program supervisors.
I have the good fortune of working closely with my colleague TchiTchaou, the supervisor of Sexual and Gender Based Violence activities, who is very passionate about these issues, and who has provided me with a lot of insight as to how the program works and how it should progress in the future. Tomorrow, we will visit Am Nabak Refugee Camp to make formal introductions to the camp leaders before CCF begins programs there.

Yesterday, Caroline, the Child Protection Coordinator (pictured above), Adolf, the Program Manager, and I joined the staff who work in Iridimi Refugee Camp (est. 2004, population over 17,000). This involved squeezing into our Landcruiser and joining the convoy of NGO Landcruisers (accompanied by the local police) for the drive to Iridimi to insure our safety. This was the first time for Adolf and myself to visit the camps, so it was very exciting for both of us.

We went to visit the child-centered spaces in the camps. Many of the children rushed over to us to shake hands and meet the new visitors. Though most speak an arabic dialect, a few sang out in falsetto tones: "Ca va-ah-ah?" (In French: How are you?) Some of the children played with lego sets, a young boy teased me with his teddy bear, and a few children waited for their turn for a brief washing. I watched as one boy poured a stream of water from a plastic teapot into the outstretched hands of another boy squatting near the ground. His eyes were squeezed shut, his face and hair covered with white soap bubbles, and as the water gathered into his cupped hands, he splashed the water onto his face and washed the bubbles away. When the bubbles were washed off, I showed him the photo that I had taken, he stared, then grinned widely as other boys clambered for a closer look at the camera screen.

In camp, it was the first day for monthly food distribution in the camp. We stopped by the food distribution center to observe. At first glance, the colorful rainbow of head coverings contrasted drastically with the drab desert-like environment of the camp. Women waited in different lines, their distribution card in hand (which stated how many people lived in the household). Inside one room, women waited in line to have their new (Save80) stoves checked for loose parts. At another side of the building, some women and children carried their boxes of soap on their heads, women dragged their sacks of grain to the weigh station. Jerry cans full of vegetable oil sat in piles on the ground. Outside of the roped area, men waited next to their donkeys for hire to carry the burdensome sacks and cans of foodstuffs home for the women.

It was so amazing to visit the camps after weeks of anticipation. Exhilarating, fatiguing, inspiring and encouraging all at once. There is so much potential for collaboration with different organizations and the refugee population so to improve the quality of life in the camps. During the next couple weeks, I will be holding focus group discussions with camp leaders in all three camps to assess the effects of CCF interventions and find out how CCF and partner organizations can work together. This is definitely a very exciting time to be working in Eastern Chad!

Read More......