We moved location again this week. The wooden buildings provided by Hummingbird were finished and opened to use. We therefore moved out of our tent into the buildings. The building is much more secure than our tent, so we can now leave more equipment on site. Storage remains very limited so we are still having to be careful about what donations we can accept.
Moving into the new accommodation has coincided with a range of factors which have ironically seen us have one of our quietest weeks since we began teaching in the camps. A couple of weeks ago, we were seeing up to 70 children on some days. This week we have seen up to 20 children on most days. This is because about 30 of the children we were previously teaching have left the camp. We do not know where families and children have gone, although it is believed that they have either gone to England, or disappeared attempting to get to England.
We are also in the midst of various initiatives to provide ‘activities’ for children in the camp. This is beneficial, but it can have the unintended effect of creating a set of alternatives in the children’s minds to school. In European countries, the law requires children to attend school. So providing activities and play facilities do not normally distract European children from school, as the children know that they must still attend school. In the camp attendance at school is optional and so play features can actually end up undermining school attendance. We have several students who are very far behind in their education, because they have missed a lot of school while they have been refugees in various locations. One girl is about 4 years behind in her maths knowledge. Until last week, she was catching up gradually to where she should be. Now, however, we have watched her spend most of this last week playing on the swings which have just become available, instead of going to school. The catching up and repairing of her education has stopped. It is great that she has new play facilities available to her, but it’s a shame that it isn’t proving possible to safeguard her education at the same time.