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One in a t-shirt, one in trousers

Another blog from volunteer Emma about life in the refugee camps...please read, share and support:

Last Tuesday we visited some projects HHA has been trying to assist. Out first stop; Ibakwe Primary school.  A ‘school’ would be a very loose description of what I saw; a muddy terrain with two trees, of which underneath sat 100 5-7 yr olds. The remains of a building stood nearby, which was blown away during a recent storm. 

A tarpaulin building with a tin roof provides a more stable learning environment for the older classes. This was constructed through the sponsorship of HHA and on an average day, 600 children cram into this building.

Lack of resources struck me straight away, no buildings, no books, no pens, no paper. no electricity, no bathrooms, no clean water, no chairs, no tables, no display boards, no posters, no toys, no uniforms.  In fact, I saw one sibling wear a t-shirt with no trousers, whilst his sibling had no t-shirt but wore the trousers. Quite literally, bar the crowd of children and voluntary teachers, there was nothing that suggested I was stood in a school.

In a previous school visit, which is supported by HHA, pupils of Amazing Grace school have lunch provided. Not here, I was told that at lunch, children walk an hour-long journey home for food, the majority however don’t even bother wasting energy to walk home as there wont be any food anyway.

I was trying my hardest to smile and be encouraging, because what an inspiring situation; a group of people overcoming the challenges of being refugees, despite not having the resources/funding, teachers were volunteering to empower the next generation, identifying education as a significant pathway out of poverty.

These South Sudanese refugees were doing their best.

But being honest, seeing their best was so sad, too sad. The news that these children go hungry was the straw that broke the camel’s back and in front of everyone, I cried. 

To give a rough picture, we heard that currently in most refugee households, monthly food rations last up to 3 weeks a month, which means for a week they aren’t eating anything!!!!!! What??!?!!! Just think about how stressful that is for a minute.

I discussed with Carwyn whether I should post this update, is it too doom and gloom with nothing positive? But then I thought, well, if I was a child in this circumstance, I’d want the whole world to know.

So yeah, take home the message everyone: These children need a school building, mainly so their education isn’t put on hold during rainy season. But most importantly, these children need to be fed!

During the days that followed this school visit, I’ve been unable to think of anything but those 800 hungry children & so I have signed up to some fundraising events with HHA to help improve the dire situation in Ibakwe Hill Primary School. If you feel inspired too, please contact HHA with ideas/ fund whatever you can to support this school.  You can see a video Carwyn did about this visit below:

Tune in next time for an uplifting story about a person called Anthony, who was given a generator as part of a business start-up idea from HHA – we will update you on the incredible difference this generator has made to his family and local community…it's an inspiring story!