By Edwyn Shiell, Act for Peace – Campaigns & Communication Coordinator (Australia)
The sense that there is life beyond a state of emergency in the camps is growing in Bilel camp in Darfur. People are becoming involved with the community centres and vocational training is becoming more and more common.
Though insecurity is still rife, camp residents are feeling empowered and are involving themselves in the many skills programmes that the joint ACT/Caritas programme implemented by Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) and its two national partners the Sudan Council of Churches (SCC) and Sudanaid, are offering.
Masonry training is one practical skill which the SCC community centre is providing for camp members. David Kat, the Adult Education Officer for the SCC said, “Camp members receive 25 days of masonry training in the community centre. 40 people currently participate, 20 in masonry, 20 in welding.
“The skills they learn here are taken back into the camps and are used for constructive purposes and shared amongst the community. These trainers effectively become trainers in their own communities. It also gives them the opportunity to take these skills and use them in an urban context. They can get jobs in the town and look beyond the confines of the camp. For many, it is a path for self-development.”
Adam Ali is a Masonry trainer in the camp and he works closely with the participants as they develop skills in building and welding. The training is very hands on and practical and the work is difficult. Nearby a participant welds the corners of a metal structure with skill as the sparks fly up into his protective eyewear in the stifling heat of the day.
Adam Ali said, “Masonry is an excellent skill and I believe the trainees, will benefit from it immensely. We plan to train 40 individuals and we have currently trained 20. The trainees have received the theoretical training and as you can see, we are currently proceeding with the practical training. The trainees involved here have learnt how to build, how to construct a variety of buildings and some have already gone out into markets to find jobs. This extra income means a lot for their families.”
In the beginning when we first began the programme, there was a shortage in the materials and since we have urged the SCC to provide more for the training. They have helped out in every way possible and we are very grateful for this support. Now we are given training in ordinary masonry, complex masonry training – for this we will require more materials. We hope also that carpentry training will be introduced here and courses on how to dig latrines and drainage systems which would support the water and sanitation activities which are already being carried out in Bilel.”
The community vocational training centre in Bilel is driven by hard work and the close relationships that have been forged between the project workers and the camp community. The sense of trust has made the centre a success. David said, “Many men and their families are happy because of their improving socio-economic status. Relationships with the community are vital for this work to continue improving”.
Caritas Internationalis works in Darfur in cooperation with Action by Churches Together (ACT) helping 350,000 people, including 240,000 who have lost their homes. The implementing partner, Norwegian Church Aid, has two national Sudanese partners, the Sudan Council of Churches and Sudanaid (Caritas Sudan).