News / Africa

    Tailors Become Schoolteachers in Cameroon Camps

    Children escaped from the Central African Republic civil war study at Gado Badzere refugee camp in Cameroon. (Photo by Eugene Nforngwa)
    Children escaped from the Central African Republic civil war study at Gado Badzere refugee camp in Cameroon. (Photo by Eugene Nforngwa)
    Eugene Nforngwa

    Thousands of children from the Central African Republic continue arriving in eastern Cameroon as refugees – more than 18 months since a coup d’état sparked a cycle of killings in their country.  They have sought safety in camps next door in Cameroon, but they are not getting the education they need. With little donor money coming in, relief workers can only do the barest minimum such as teacher children songs and handwork.

    This year alone, more than 106,000 Central Africans crossed the border. Relief workers expect the number to reach 180,000 by the end of the year. The vast majority of them, about 60 percent, are children who have now been put out of school.

    Challenges on Cameroon’s eastern border

    Refugee camps have mushroomed along Cameroon’s eastern border and challenge officials who must try to educate young residents as other life-threatening emergencies rage on: malnutrition, sanitation and personal security from violence.

    Every morning hundreds of children squat on mats under large white tents in the Gado Badzere camp to sing and recite rhymes. It’s their only chance to forget the mayhem back home and the atrocities they have encountered during their flight.  

    The learning and recreation areas are called “child-friendly zones” and they were carved out by UNICEF and run by a local organization. Many of those who care for the children are unpaid volunteers recruited from the ranks of the refugees themselves.

    When a tailor becomes a teacher

    Zaibabou Kaleb was a tailor before the killings began and she fled. She is one of a dozen refugees who have been drafted to supervise children and teach basic skills at the refugee camp, which is home to over 13,000 refugees.

    Kaleb says most of the children would like to be in school but don’t have the opportunity. She says at the “child friendly-zone” boys learn how to make wooden toys and girls how to sew. They also listen to educational talks on a variety of subjects.

    UNICEF, which has been looking out for the welfare of young refugees, says education is an important priority: only 3 percent of all children of school-going age in refugee camps have ever been to school.

    Felicite Tchibindat is UNICEF’s resident representative in the capital, Yaounde. She says it would be hard to put them in local schools in Cameroon.

    Three percent have been in a school before

    “That is why we took this option of a temporary space to start preparing them and we do have accelerated curricula to help them go to school,” says Tchibinbat. “And then, those who have been to school, we have to evaluate their level and see in which class they should be. Before that we need space for children to start rebuilding, getting their life back to normal.

    The program seems to be paying off. Children are beginning to master different skills. Some have developed self-confidence and are willing to walk forward and perform recitations.

    The number of children attending educational and recreational activities has been growing, because parents themselves see the importance of education. But Tchibindat says critical obstacles remain.

    “The biggest phase will be how to increase the capacity of the different schools in the community so that they are able to accommodate refugees. We know already that this region is a priority-education region, meaning that there are fewer classrooms, fewer teachers, and all that.”

    Lack of resources could hamper the plans of organizations like UNICEF. With so many crises in the world, the plight of Central African refugees appears to be getting very little attention from donors.  UNICEF, for example, says it needs around $25-million for all its interventions this year. But half-way through the year, only 15 percent has come in.

     

     

     

    You May Like

    New EU Asylum Rules Could Boost Rightists

    New regulations will seek to correct EU failures in dealing with migrant crisis, most notably inability to get member states to absorb a total of 160,000 refugees

    More Political Turmoil Likely in Iraq as Iran Waits in the Wings

    Analysts warn that Tehran, even though it may not be engineering the Sadrist protests in Baghdad, is seeking to leverage its influence on its neighbor

    Forced Anal Testing Case to Appear Before Kenya Court

    Men challenge use of anal examinations to ‘prove homosexuality’; practice accomplishes nothing except to humiliate those subjected to them, according to Human Rights Watch

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora