International Women's Day in Chad - Awatif's story

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In Bredjing refugee camp in Chad women from the camp, and those living nearby, celebrated International Women's Day on 8th March with sketches, songs, poems and a sack race that Cord organised. Afterwards girls from Cord's schools, as well as teachers, joined other groups in a long procession at the end of the event.

Awatif Mahamat is the principal at Abubakar School in Bredjing camp, and is here to celebrate with the girls from the school: “This is our festival, we want all women here to be happy today.”

The message of protecting women against violence is important for her: “We see problems in the home because of lack of resources and we must protect women. We hope that we can go back home without these bad things happening [to us],” said Awatif.

She came to Bredjing camp in 2004 with her husband and eight children. “Life was good for us before. The women would work out in the field and we had water and food for our family. Then one day the Janjaweed militia came and took our livestock. We had nothing left and we had to leave,” Awatif told us.

She came to the camp with her family and found work as a teacher with Cord. She is passionate about education: “I want to see progress in education, and see more teachers working. Education is important for us; we do not want to be oppressed when we go back [home].”

For Awatif, education is essential for a better future: “If we are educated, when we go back we can be our own people. We will be stronger and in control of our own destiny.”

After ten years in the camp she hopes that one day she will see peace and be able to return home with her family.