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It’s a struggle to be a child in Daadab

This morning I headed to Dagahaley, a refugee camp in Daadab in north east Kenya. Dadaab is made up of a cluster of three camps: Ifo the closest to the north, Dagahaley the furthest to the north (about a 20 minute drive over bumpy, and very dusty roads) and Hagadere to the south.

I went to visit the team in the camp and talk to them about our work. Some of the team went to one of our “child friendly spaces” for a training session, to look at how play helps children in difficult situations, as well as being a fundamental right of all children. Enabling children to have a space to play, and feel safe, is an essential part of trying to mitigate the damage to children in such upheaval.

The rest of the team are involved in individual case management, in the same way social workers in the UK are. Whilst I was talking to them in the office, a lady arrived. In floods of tears she recounted her stress as she spoke about her situation. Her child was allegedly sexually assaulted and she is now pregnant. Without a husband, this is wholly unacceptable to many people living within the communities here. As a result of this, the family faces discrimation from some neighbours and classmates in school. They face daily stone throwing and harassment, restricting their movement around the camp. They cannot fetch water, they cannot leave their area, and they are scared when they’re there. Save the Children will work with the other agencies providing services here to see when we can relocate this family to a new place where their problems are unknown.

One of our child protection team, relayed the story to me of a lady who has been displaced for 32 years, first in her native Ethiopia, and then in Dadaab for 18 years. She looks after a 14 year old child, who arrived at the camp without any family. The child is deaf, and the lady is not trained in sign language, she doesn’t know the child’s background and needs to meet her needs. It’s difficult to understand how she can keep going, after so long without all that we take for granted.

After this I met Hassan, an 11 year old who has no family in the camp, but is currently staying with clansmen whilst we look for a foster family for him to stay with. He was playing at the “child friendly space”. He likes this space, but knows the team well and prefers to spend time in the Save the Children office, with the team there!

The road back to the management office compound was bumpy and we passed through a number of duststorms. The dust creeps everwhere, and in these small localised storms visibility is nil. You emerge to a clear area and bump down the road to the office.

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