We left N’Djamena, the capital of Tchad, after a brief stay to head to the far eastern part of the country near to the Sudanese boarder. The area we are visiting has several refugee camps for people who have fled from the DarFur region of Sudan. We’ll be visiting two of those refugee camps on this part of our trip.
So, we flew on UN planes all the way out to where we are. The flights were free–paid for by USAID (United States Agency for International Development) and several other national governments–and they regularly fly staff from charity organizations (Nongovernmental Organizations–NGOs) and the UN out to these refugee camps. We landed on a sand airstrip and were met by three vehicles that took by convoy out to where we are staying.
We’re staying at the IRC (International Rescue Committee) compound near to where the SIL team is living. It’s my first time to sleep in a tukul (round house). This one is quite nice–the thick concrete walls keep it cool during the hot days, and I’ve got a big double bed. We have electricity most of the day, running water and internet–no complaints!
The SIL team we are visiting is doing a mother-tongue literacy program among the Masalit–a language community of maybe up to 200,000 located both in Chad and Sudan. About 70,000 are located in Chad, and it is not known exactly how many are located in Sudan. A group of about 50,000 Maasalite from Sudan now live in two refugee camps located close to a Chadian Masalit village. The UNHRC (UN Human Rights Committee) has been providing services to the people living in the refugee camps including providing security, food, water and coordiating efforts of other NGOs that desire to help the refugees. These groups (NGOs and UNHCR) are also providing some assistance to the local Masalit community as the influx of refugees has put a strain on locally available resources.