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Friday, 25 January 2013

Home and Away

Refugees arriving in Chad.  Photo: Geoff Crawford/Tearfund
Millions of children worldwide experience the pain of being torn from their known universe and carried along on a journey that must seem incredibly bewildering to them.  

If you’ve ever been homesick, you will know just how painful that boundary between ‘home’ and anywhere else can be.  For most of us it is a mercifully fleeting experience.  For refugees it can be a life sentence,  frequently starting from a very young age.

And the place they land up in is probably not ready or especially able to receive and nurture them. That’s where you come in. Through Toilet Twinning you are now able to twin with toilet blocks built in schools for refugee children in Eastern Chad.  

A refugee is legally defined as a person who is outside his or her country of nationality and is unable to return due to a well-founded fear of persecution. In 2011 there were 15.2 million refugees in the world, and 80% of them were estimated to be women and children.  

There are several hundred thousand refugees living in camps in Chad, many of them displaced from the Darfur region of neighbouring Sudan. Eastern Chad, which borders Sudan, is a semi-arid area with scarce natural resources, subject to droughts, floods and epidemics. So the influx of Sudani refugees weighs heavily on the host communities. What’s more, their chances of returning home are slim.  

Providing water and sanitation, food, shelter and health services are basic life-savers in this environment. Education is vital for all the usual reasons, but also to protect boys from forced recruitment and discourage early marriage for girls.

Twinning your toilet or toilets with a school block in a refugee camp in Chad is a straightforward thing to do, but the consequences can be profound for those suffering the sting of dislocation.  

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