Thursday, November 15, 2007

By Elizabeth Sung, Consultant for CCF-Chad

My chapter in Chad is already coming to an end. Yesterday, even though I could have spent more time working in the office, I went to Iridimi Refugee Camp for the last time to meet with my group of survey interviewers. Among the three camps, I spent the most time with them.
I believe that this group represented the best and brightest in the camp. Among them were community educators, teachers, mothers, fathers, students, and the director of primary schools.

As part of my role in doing this survey, I have a number of responsibilities to my interviewers. This includes sharing results and taking account their response into my report. In discussing some of the results, we debated about the utility of the rights of a child in the refugee situation. We also conversed about rights of a refugee, and the urgent needs related to water, food and education.

I was inspired and once again reminded about their strength, resilience, and their ultimate desire to improve their quality of life and their communities. It is so easy to forget that they have been living in the camps for three to four years, forced from their homes because of conflict, leaving behind their homes, their liberty to move about and make independent choices. Yet, here they were, doing their best to survive, and for many, improving the quality of their lives, enriching their communities, and providing for their families.

It was extremely difficult to say good-bye to my interviewers. There was Elham, a quiet young lady, educated at the university in El Fasher, and a teacher at one of the primary schools. Though she hardly said a word to me the entire time, her quiet presence, her flawless work, and her smile always reassured me. Mahamat Ahmat Jaffoun, one of the primary school directors, sported a wool scarf wrapped around his head and tied around his chin. He never failed to make me laugh with his practical jokes. Hassan Mahamat Djouma, a teacher for CCF's literacy program for women, bowed his head respectfully towards me each time we met. Then there were my two favorite assistants, Hamid and Aladin, each fourteen years of age. Their extreme intelligence always threw me off. They were fluent in Arabic, and were well on their way with both French and English. These people, with their unique personalities that are impossible to capture in a few sentences, are the ones who I will miss, who I will advocate for, and who are the catalysts for progressive thinking—they are the movers and shakers of the community. To say the very least, I think we had all learned from the process of the interviews, from the results, and from each other.

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