A day in Khalim’s journey in Kabkabiya

 I’m Khalim, and I’m 15 years old! I would like to invite you in the shade under my tree. It is also, in some ways my dining room.

Come let’s sit … as I want to tell you my story!

I live in Sortoni Internal Displaced Persons Camp (or IDPs camp), North Darfur, with my family. We have lived there since the armed clashes in the Jebel Mara region in 2016. But for now, I’m temporarily based in the locality of Kabkabiya, where I am taking my G8 exams.

The process will last a whole week: this means a whole week away from my home and from my family. We took a half day road trip to get to Kabkabiya …

I am staying in the Al Hamiya School for Boys and Girls, at the southern end of the city. We are a total of 297 students that came from Sortoni IDP camp. The examination and accommodation facilities were provided by the State Ministry of Education. Working jointly with various partners, UNICEF facilitated our participation in the examination, especially through our transportation and accommodation.

I heard that there are currently some 2,941 children who are being provided with the same support throughout the whole Northern Darfur State. We all have to be relocated far from our homes to various examination centres, because we of conflict and insecurity. It is virtually impossible to effectively study for this critical exam to continue our education where we live. I already knew Sortoni IDPs camp is so poor in education infrastructures that it was impossible to pass the examination there.

Our day is rather routine. When we wake up in the morning, we fold away our ‘beds’, which consists of a simple handcrafted plastic mat that I share with two of my buddies.

It is difficult to sleep well, firstly because of the stress of the exams of the day, and secondly because when you sleep in a group, some guys get up very early, and begin talking amongst themselves with little consideration for others.

Once awake and my stuff folded away, I make my morning hygiene in this space. As you can see, our bathroom is very rudimentary; It was arranged right next to the toilet specifically for the exam week, and allows us to have some privacy! Remember: We are here temporarily and the space at the beginning has not been adapted for young people in boarding school!

But I think it’s okay for young men that we are. I do not know about girls: our respective accommodation facilities are completely separated.

I later revise the subject of the day. This morning, I had a science test. I try to enjoy the moment when the others wash or leave for their breakfast, and I revisit the subject for at least 45 minutes.

I take this G8 examination very seriously, and I wish to take advantage of the opportunity which has been given to me. I want to be a doctor!

After quickly having breakfast, it’s time to join my classmates for the day’s exam. We do the exam from 8.30am to 1pm.

Some like my buddy Ahmed, take the exam too seriously; Well even before the papers are distributed to us. I try to relax …

After the exams, we go back to the foot of “my dining room”! You now understand why I have lunch under a tree?!

Do not be angry with me, it’s a little late, we’ve already had our lunch. Check in the background, right behind me on the brick wall where you see the black spots; well this is where the volunteer moms from the neighboring Kabkabiya community prepare our food. The meals are provided free of charge by UNICEF partners; they are not a feast, but it keeps us going!

The afternoons are generally reserved for house chores such as laundry. It is also a moment of socialisation with the buddies; We take the opportunity to discuss the previous morning exams, or discuss other subjects…

Personally, the moment allows me to drive away the anguish of nostalgia due to the distance from my family.

UNICEF local partner, the Kabkabiya Small Holders Charitable Society, as well as the neighboring community, provide us with clean water for our consumption, sanitation and laundry needs. It is a tank truck that comes every day to fill the bladder tank placed at our disposal.

Although separated from the girls’ dwellings facilities, we share the same bladder tank but the use is strictly regulated.

But again, as the G8 exams are the reason for our presence in Kabkabiya, the afternoons are also especially dedicated to course revision, especially late in the day, when it gets cooler.

We have really dedicated teachers. They accompanied us in this trip to Kabkabiya, and they invest themselves to be sure that we will be at our best for any upcoming exam. This afternoon I chose to review math.

Anyway, I have always considered that these revisions are done in an odd and funny way: in the classrooms or even outside where we sometimes sit on the ground! Each one follows the course of his choice, takes notes in his own way… But we like it!

As we approach sunset my day also comes to an end as I waitfor my evening meal and return to the room that serves as a dormitory, I always find myself dreaming pleasantly.

I dream of the day when we will return home; not to our “Sortoni home”, but to our village of origin …

But above all, I dream of the day when I am announced that I have successfully passed my G8 examinations, and when I will join a normal school, with beautiful and sustainable classrooms like these ones; a school where I will not have to travel hundreds of miles to just write a test or an exam!

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Story & photos by Dismas Junior Biraronderwa, Communication Specialist, Media & External Relations