Community centres are drawing in more displaced people in Darfur, giving them stronger bonds while also teaching them practical skills as many enter their eighth year of living in relief camps. Although Darfur has all but disappeared from the headlines, fighting worsened in 2010, with an additional 250,000 people displaced from their homes.
In the Bilel camp, building and welding is taught at the community centre. David Kat, the Adult Education Officer there says the skills are taken back into the camp and shared: “The men become trainers themselves. They can also try for jobs in town and look beyond the narrow confines of the camp.”
In 2010, Caritas Internationalis provided half million people with assistance, working in cooperation with the Action by Churches Together (ACT), an alliance of Protestant and Orthodox Christian agencies. Since 2004, Caritas and its partners have raised $90 million for the people of Darfur. Caritas member Catholic Relief Services has a separate programme reaching a further 500,000 people in Darfur.
Although insecurity currently restricts much work to the relief camps, 25,000 antenatal check-ups were carried out and 6,000 safe baby delivery kits were distributed. Thirteen new classrooms were built in four schools and six solar-powered water pumping stations were installed.
Over the border in eastern Chad, Caritas also works with both refugees from Darfur and impoverished local people. For 2010, Caritas’s budget was over $1.5 million for practical projects like distributing seeds and tools, so that people can begin farming and fending for themselves.
David Kat says improving socio-economic status and relationships are vital in these tense areas of Darfur and Chad where there has been conflict between local people and those who are displaced. “The sense of trust has made the community centres a success and developing relationships is vital,” he said.