“One morning an armed group attacked our village. My husband was killed and I am now alone with no help to support 6 children,” says Samia Dawood, 31, from Um Ghubeish village in East Jebel Marra in Sudan’s Darfur region.
When fighting erupted in January this year, Samia fled with her children to Zamzam camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) where she continues to take refuge today.
Samia and her children, like many others, reached Zamzam - North Darfur’s largest IDP camp with over 150,000 people - with nothing to call their own.
Born in the camp
Her home, land and livestock have been taken or destroyed. Narrating her story with her children cuddled close to Samia, she comforts her 8-month-old-baby, born in the camp.
Her eldest son Mohamed, 11, went to school before they fled. In the camp, Mohamed is eager to continue his learning. However, there is no space for children, particularly new arrival, to go to school.
“There is one school but I have to pay 28 Sudanese Pounds (about US$2.8) to register Mohamed and pay the same fee monthly”, says Samia. “I don't have money to buy them food let alone pay for school.”
A camp teacher explained that most of them are volunteers.
“There are no schools for newly displaced children in Salooma quarter and because of that Samia’s boy and many others are out of school. She cannot afford to pay the school fee,” says Sheikh Suleiman. “Over 284 newly displaced children are out of school in Salooma quarter alone.”
Grow without education
Samia’s situation highlights the difficult conditions of many IDPs in the camp whose children cannot access education. Like many others in Zamzam, she is worried about how to feed 6 children and pained by the prospect of her children growing up without education.
Plan International Sudan is one of the humanitarian organisations working to increase education opportunities in Zamzam. It provides supplies to 26 schools in the camp including textbooks, water containers and blackboards.
Elhaj Adam Eissa, Plan International Sudan’s Education and Child Protection Coordinator, stated that Plan has assisted 18,809 children with 9,209 being female and will continue to provide essential items including books for 2,400 newly arrived children in Zamzam. Plan International Sudan has conducted teacher training for 160 teachers in the camp, of which 150 are volunteers. This is in addition to peace building activities for all the children clubs in the camp.
Crucial to well-being of children
Ensuring access to education for displaced children is crucial to their well-being. Schools not only provide the necessary skills and knowledge to help free children from dependency on humanitarian aid, they also help mitigate the psychosocial impact of violence and displacement.
Thanks to money from the Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF), a country-based pooled fund managed by UN OCHA, Plan International will construct 12 temporary and 6 semi-permanent classrooms and rehabilitate 8 existing classrooms in schools in Salooma. This comes as great news for Mohamed, who will soon have the chance to learn again.