As we finish our second week in the new camp, work continues to build more shelters and to build community buildings. The camp kitchens are still being developed, so we are still having meals brought in from outside the camp and logistical complexities mean that the timings of meals are sometimes variable. This has a direct impact on schooling as we are not always able to predict from day to day when children will be available for school, so it makes it difficult to set consistent and firm start and end times for sessions.
We watched the voluntary organisation Hummingbird come on site last week and start building a structure which is intended to be a wooden school building. The organisation has raised £15,000 in order to build the structure to support us. However in the middle of the building project, the local authority stopped the build, because it did not have all the necessary planning consents. The refugee camp was set up by Medecins Sans Frontier, and is now administered by an organisation called Utopia 56. The original plans for the school building were agreed with the organisations, but it seems that the plans did not reach the right local authority office. So the build project is now stopped pending further authorisations.
We therefore continue to teach in our pair of little tents. On a positive note we have been very pleased to see that they do not leak, so we no longer get wet when it rains. On a less positive note we are back to having no heating, and having to end lessons early when the children are shivering too much. We are also back to having pens and school materials regularly raided from our tents during the nights. This means that we can only hold a very small stock of materials on site and so we are back to having to carry key materials in and out of the camp in a rucksack on a daily basis.
Another organisation working near us has been providing a space for toddlers. This is important for schooling, as teenage girls are still regularly missing school because they end up baby sitting during the day. When one of the year 11 girls missed a morning this week, we could only get her back into school for the afternoon with teacher holding the baby at the whiteboard, so that the student could sit at a desk and do the school work. Support for babies and toddlers is therefore absolutely essential to ensuring that schooling works effectively for girls education. However toddler provision was also knocked this week as the building being used for that purpose has also had to be removed from the camp. We ended up having to clear one of our own teaching tents in order to support the toddler provision.
All in all its been a difficult week practically. However we are now fast approaching Easter and we are looking forward to seeing a number of potential volunteers dropping in to look at things for themselves.