Courageously Educating Chadian Villages

Reporting from her base in Hadjer Hadid, Chad, our on-the-ground partner Anne Goddard of CORD explains how she and her team are persisting through security threats to run education programs in 18 Chadian villages.

To show your admiration for their courage, please consider donating to the emergency school supply fund, which will enable on-demand purchasing of pens, pencils, notebooks, etc. for the Chadian and Darfurian students, preventing interruptions in their education due to supply shortages.

The security situation in eastern Chad has become very serious – the worst I have known it. The tragic murder of the country director of Save the Children during a hijack at the beginning of May, 35km from here, was preceded by the murder of a driver from the same organisation and followed by that of a local man on his way home from the market in Hadjer Hadid. These two latter events were within 5km from our base in the village.

Because of this increase in violence, where armed men seem to think that it is OK to shoot to kill without asking any questions, we have withdrawn our Land Cruisers from the 18 villages* where we encourage the primary schools and literacy programmes. We are now only sending two motorbikes together for our visits – motorbikes being considered safe because they have no value to hijackers.

Taha and Khadija motorcycling to the villages, Hadjer Hadid, ChadOur first problem was that we have a Chadian lady, Khadija, on our village education programme and we all thought that it would be considered inappropriate for her to ride on the back of a motorbike. We all worried about what other work we could find for her to do and as a last resort decided to ask her how she and her family would feel about this. She said that she was more than happy to ride pillion, showing me that something of the rebel is in her – the men on the team are all wonderfully shocked.

Our second problem was that we had purloined a Land Cruiser driver, Taha, to ride the other motorbike and we were worried that he would be bored as his presence was only an issue of security. However, his coming has coincided with the need to monitor the use of all the distributed items in the villages. He had formerly partially completed a university education in Benin before circumstances drew him back to Chad and we felt that he would be more than capable of the monitoring job. So armed with a couple of plastic folders, a notebook and a pen he started to poke around in the stores to see if all was present and correct.

Yacoub helping Taha enter statistics from the villages, Hadjer Hadid, ChadHowever, what is the point of doing all this without writing it up on the computer? Everybody in Chad wants to learn the computer. He is no different and we are in the business of education. So we sat down together and worked out how to write up the information in Word and Excel. It’s taking a little time remember all the right keys and icons, but his enthusiasm is taking him the rest of the way and I have no doubt that in the end I will see an array of statistics with a well-written report along with his ideas on how he would personally improve the programme that seem to pop up every time I ask him how things are going.

At the end of July, all twenty the staff of Hadjer Hadid will be invited to take part in a 5-day Development Studies course. The only stipulation is that the participant be reasonably literate – apart from that, anyone from the cleaner to my deputy is welcome to attend. I am hoping that I can include Taha in this course and build his capacity still further. After all, education is what we are about…

Anne Goddard
Programme Manager for Education in Bredjing & Treguine Camps
Hadjer Hadid, Chad
May 13, 2008

*The 18 Chadian villages are: Abougkni, Barde, Bahkita, Bredjing, Faguire, Fodji, Hadjer Hadid, Kadjala, Kinouane, Kodolok Koundjan, Korkoguine, Koundoubla, Lira, Louma, Mobouguine, N’gourkoudji, Rataye, and Sira.