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Plan's catch-up classes bring joy to children in the Damba refugee camp

Portrait of Ibrahim who attends Plan's catch up classes in the Damba refugee camp.
Portrait of Ibrahim who attends Plan's catch up classes in the Damba refugee camp.
December 5, 2012

From his picture, Ibrahim seems to be a regular teenage boy. He aspires to study and become a doctor. He enjoys sports and being with his family.

What you can’t see in the photo is that Ibrahim lives in the Damba refugee camp in Burkina Faso, set up to receive Tuaregs fleeing violence in northern Mali almost 8 months ago. His education has been on hold while his family and thousands of others wait for peace so they can return to their homes.

However, the political turmoil that is happening in Mali is not a challenge that will be quickly solved. The lives of refugee children, the next generation, cannot be stalled because of war and violence.

Joy. The emotion displayed by Ibrahim and many other children when they learned that Plan International and UNICEF would hold summer catch-up classes in the Damba camp where he and his family found refuge in March 2012.

Enthusiastic children could not wait to see their new school. As soon as the first tent classrooms were set up, the children spent part of their days wandering around them, sneaking peaks at furniture and supplies, and following the daily progress. While the new surroundings looked different than their schools at home, they still looked like schools!

Ibrahim describes waking up early for the first day of class. “I was attending grade 6 in the primary school in Timbuktu. Due to the rebellion, we had to leave, and that is when school ended for me. In the Damba camp, we had nothing to do in the day apart from playing football. When we got tired of playing football, we did not know what else to do. We were just idle for the rest of the day. Our families have received different types of help, but no one was talking about school, and I was wondering if I would one day have the chance to go to school again. Now, my friends and I are very happy. Plan gave us notebooks, books, pens, pencils, T-shirts, and nice school bags. I think I will get the chance to become a pediatrician. All I love to do is take care of children, and when I grow up, I want to be able to help sick children”.

Ibrahim is one of 252 students attending school in the Damba camp. Catch-up classes began on August 6th. Semi-permanent schools complete with furniture, books, and individual school supplies have been set up to accommodate the children. Student meals are also available to those who attend.

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