Our first week of May has brought much warmer weather and means that we are now seeing more of the children again. When it rains and is overcast, they tend to stay inside their houses as it can be difficult drying off clothes that get wet. This week we have had a lot of children out and about playing around the camp. The warmer weather has also brought quite a few frayed tempers. The camp sits on top of a bed of coarse large gravel. When children get upset with each other they tend to pick up the large rocks and just throw them at each other. It has led to some nasty injuries and gashes. At one point we were getting through a first aid kit per week, but thankfully in recent weeks that has calmed down. We very much hope that the warmer weather will not bring a new rash of injuries.
The population of the camp is ‘churning’ massively. Over the last few months the figure in the camp has fluctuated up and down between 2000 and 1000 with some very large exodus’ taking place on single nights. Some mornings we come in to find that 200 or more people have left during the previous night. We went through all our exercise books this week and identified 52 exercise books alone as belonging to children who have left us during the month of April.
If we knew children were leaving we would give them their exercise books to take away, but the nature of the people movements is that we never know in advance when they are occurring. When adults or children are arranging to be smuggled, they understand that they cannot talk to us about it, or we would have to report it to the authorities. So it means that we never get to say farewell. We just come in each day to find more familiar faces are no longer with us. Looking through the books, however, we can see how far the children have come. Several of the exercise books have multiple versions of the children’s names on the cover, as the children arrived unable to explain to us how to spell their names in the Western alphabet. As we leaf through the books we can see children who mastered the alphabet and number system and got to the point of beginning to write simple sentences about themselves.
We will continue to be here, for the old-timers and newcomers nonetheless.