Life without education doesn’t make sense

from CORD
Published on 18 Jun 2013 View Original

Imagine having to flee the genocide in your own country to a refugee camp with few resources. What would you do? How would you forge a life?

For Mustapha Sinine Bara the choice was simple. Formerly a teacher in Sudan, he quickly became involved in education at Gaga camp. Today, nearly ten years after his arrival, he is director of the Djabal Mara School, the largest in the camp with 1,200 students.

Cord works with six schools in Gaga camp and has supported the refugees in setting up Parents' Committees to manage the schools. The main purpose has been to create an income source to provide funds for the maintenance and development of school facilities.

At Djabal Mara School the income generating activity is an agricultural business — selling products such as peanuts, maize and sorghum (a cereal). The committee buys the products in bulk and sells them on, in surrounding villages, at a profit — and all of the profits are invested into the school.

Mustapha told us, “We have been able to build two new classrooms and provide stationery for the children.” He continued, “Five orphan girls couldn't come to school due to lack of funds. We were able to buy them books, pens and school uniform so that they could continue their education.”

The value that is placed on even the most vulnerable children is inspirational and testament to the continuing development of the community as a whole. The committee has also encouraged community members to contribute 100XAF (13p) per student, per month, to support their child's education. With this money, they are planning to add a further classroom.

For Mustapha, the future is encouraging. “Some who were students when we started are now teachers themselves. It is vital that we build a better future for ourselves.”

Examination success in Gaga:

71% of students passed their first term exams.

New school uniforms in Farchana:

2,256 boys and girls received new school uniforms from Cord.

Hugs of peace in Hadjer Hadid:

The school inspector and camp manager were enemies - but, prompted by inspired messages of peace from the children, they resolved their differences with a hug.