Life after the floods: a difficult adjustment for children.
"I have many friends here, but I don't have enough to eat and I feel very cold". Ben Shalom Allah Nour, a flood-affected child.
Hundreds of people on the move, a few small shops selling basic commodities, shelters set up here and there, a dry wind blowing dust around: the relocation site for flood victims in Milezi, a neighborhood of Chad’s capital N’Djamena, is a dire place to live in.
Under a tree stands Ben Shalom Allah Nour, a 9-year-old boy. Ben is one of thousands of children who lost their homes after massive flooding in N’Djamena displaced an estimated 150,000 people.
Before the disaster hit, Ben used to live in Walia, the 9th district of N’Djamena, with his four siblings. His father is unemployed, and his mother runs a small confectionery and vegetable business to feed the family.
Since the family had to leave their house, the boy's life has dramatically changed.
Every morning, my brothers and I eat a few puff puff (a sweet deep fried dough); at the end of the day, when our mother gets some money from her business, we share a meal. Otherwise, we just drink water; he says.
Ben also declares it’s difficult to remain clean and to have access to toilets on the site.
In response to the crisis, UNICEF and its partners, in addition to providing shelters and basic supplies to the affected population, have set up emergency classrooms to make sure children can pursue their education. An opportunity for Ben and the other children.
Ben likes going to school; he is in second grade at the emergency school set up for flood victims in Milezi. When it comes to arithmetic, his favorite subject, he feels proud of himself and unbeatable by his classmates. "I like mathematics’ and I am very good at it," he says confidently. Ben’s dream is to become a pilot: " I'm very fascinated by planes, and I would like to learn how to fly them " he adds.
Ben also likes dancing and says he started learning his first dance steps on his own when he was only 5 years old. He is remembered as having danced during World Children's Day celebration on 20 November 2022.
The little boy has big ambitions, but his main concern right now is to get enough food every dayso that he has the energy and the mental focus that will help him to succeed.
According to Mr. Djibril Abdel-Kerim, one of Ben's teachers, "Ben is a hard-working, diligent and very respectful pupil; he is good at arithmetic but very poor at writing and reading" .
In his opinion, Ben's and many other children's academic weaknesses are due not only to the precariousness of the situation, which does not allow children to eat enough and go to school, but also the lack of schoolbooks.
At the beginning, I had a classroom of 138 children, but only about twenty of them come to class often. The parents cannot afford to pay for the children's meals, which makes it difficult for them to come to class or to stay focused. The children are eager to learn, but their living conditions are not conducive, he adds.
Demas Kondote is the deputy headmaster of the Milezi disaster victims’ school, which has 12 classrooms for a total of 1,656 children, including 1,103 girls and 553 boys between the ages of 6 and 15. To ensure learning continuity, 30 volunteer teachers are mobilized from Monday to Friday.
According to Demas, a lot of efforts have been made, but the needs are enormous:
There is a shortage of classrooms, benches and teaching materials. UNICEF and other partners are supporting us, and we hope that this will continue, so that together we can meet this common challenge of educating and training children in Chad.
With financial support from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), USAID's Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA), Global Affairs Canada and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), UNICEF and its implementing partners have built shelters, emergency schools and latrines, child-friendly spaces and provided basic materials to flood victims relocated to the Toukra, Koundoul and Milezi sites.