Day of the African Child Celebrated Amidst Crisis

Despite an uncertain and deteriorating security situation, with Chadian troops passing through their base of operations in Hadjer Hadid, our on-the-ground partner Anne Goddard (CORD) and her team managed to celebrate the Day of the African Child (June 16) with Darfur refugees in Treguine and Bredjing Camps, and villagers from the surrounding communities. Their determination to secure a future for the children through education, amidst the crisis, is an inspiration. Please help them by donating to provide books for the refugees' English classes.

In spite of Chadian army troops passing through Hadjer Hadid last night, we could see no reason not to carry on with the celebration of the Day of the African Child. The thing to remember is that we are generally on the road to nowhere and although it might seem very dangerous, you only have to stay at home during the time of the military convoys. The army had passed through 12 hours before and were not stopping, so there was no reason why we should.

Day of the African Child, Treguine Camp, ChadThe infants of Zounnouraine School, Treguine Camp greeting aid workers with a special song

The Darfuris could see no reason not to proceed and I visited four schools in Treguine to greet them and drink a lot of orange juice. Adam did the visiting in Bredjing and said that the schools were full and well-organised with their celebration. There was a mixture of singing, dramas, some games and sometimes some dancing. Yacoub, Adam and I give a little speech and everyone just settled down to enjoying the day. There was a nice speech from one of the schools in Treguine this year by two students who have been studying English and it was perfectly comprehensible and even witty. This is an encouragement because Treguine is the weaker of the two camps in English. I reciprocated by ending my speech in English saying that if they kept on studying with enthusiasm they would be able to change the world.

Day of the African Child, Korgoguine village, ChadChildren and members of the parents’ committee in the village of Korgoguine, Chad

I was really pleased with the Chadian host community team. Khadija and Taha (shown on motorbike here) visited three of the villages, and said that there had been a good organisation of games, singing and fun. I think this is the first time the Day of the African Child has been successfully celebrated in the Chadian villages. I went with them to a fourth, taking my driver, Radouane on the other motorbike — always good fun. We were late, but the villagers soon gathered and presented us with roast chicken, juice and tea. We had time for a photo and a couple of speeches. It was a nice time and I was really pleased to see just how well Taha has slipped into his role with us.

All this with the backdrop of spiralling violence around Abéché today. The towns of Oum Hadjer and Biltine were attacked and occupied today, and that affects Taha, Yacoub and Radouane, who all have family there. The uncertainty of what will happen next affects everyone.

Needless to say, I am very proud of everyone for not giving in to fear and to being able to make rational security judgments that have to wait until the last minute.