Books keeping dreams alive for children affected by conflict
In Cameroon, what began as peaceful protests and strikes by lawyers and teachers more than two years ago has now degenerated into a situation which looks increasingly like war, with armed groups asking for an independent state. Dozens of villages have been burnt down and an estimated 300,000 people have fled in search of safety.
Books have a vital role to play in enabling children to keep learning when violence and displacement mean they can no longer attend formal education. Here, a partner in Cameroon shares how he plans to use books you have helped to send to give children displaced by recent conflict the chance to continue reading and learning.
How has the conflict affected children’s education in Cameroon?
Thousands of children and students in the two affected regions do not attend school because they are living in the forest with their parents. They are living without books, a classroom or any form of education or literacy programme going on.
Others who are in camps in neighbouring villages and towns have limited access to education because active fighting makes it impossible to attend school regularly. Even where the schools function there are significant gaps in teaching and learning materials. Out of school and with no education, children are at greater risk of exploitation.
How can books help?
Books and access to education facilities will redirect the children’s energies away from these risks and towards education.
Despite the fact that these children have found themselves in a crisis situation they need to continue accessing books so they remain informed. Education is a human right and books will keep the education flame in the children alive ready for when things return to normal.
Living away from home or school and beginning a new life in the forest under very uncomfortable circumstances is very challenging and tough for the displaced children. Books can help them integrate into their new environments and deal with what they have been through.
We believe that we can give these children hope in a hopeless situation. Dreams should not end because there is strife and conflict, but unless we right the wrongs now for these children so they can learn today, there will be no tomorrow for them and their communities.
– A Bishop in Cameroon
How will you be using the books with displaced children?
Teachers and others are already doing some excellent work providing basic education and teaching for the children. Books from Book Aid International will be a boost to the standard of teaching at various centres for refugees. Being involved in fun activities with books will make life feel more exciting and normal for the children.
I will not be able to go back to my village and school which have been burnt down. The forest is now my home though there are no schools and books here. I still have hopes to go to school and read books again.
– Displaced child, Cameroon
Dreams should not end because of conflict. These children cannot postpone their futures because of war but with the right type of books and education provided them at this stage they can build a meaningful tomorrow.
Sadly, Cameroon is just one of many places across the world where children’s lives are affected by conflict. For many of them, access to education can become strained. Displacement often puts their education on an indefinite hiatus and for children who stay at home, violence can make it difficult to get to school regularly.
But conflict shouldn’t put children’s futures on hold. In fact, it is vital to ensure the next generation has the skills rebuild their countries or contribute to their new homes when they are older.
With your support we can send more books to help children in conflict zones continue to learn, dream and be inspired.