Eloise Gnanh is a student of PTP refugee camp school and young mother. Her daughter, Princesse, stays in the Day Care Centre while mommy is in class. Finn Church Aid has established a Day Care Centre within the school area. The location ensures that it is easy for the studying mothers to attend classes without leaving their babies and toddlers somewhere else. In the Day Care Centre, four voluntary nannies are taking care of nearly thirty kids. During the breaks, the studying mothers come to play with their kids and feed their babies.
Princesse was a little scared, as she had not seen a pale photographer before.
Now, the situation in Ivory Coast is mostly calm. Still, the security is fragile. The situation has been less stable in the past few months, as some confrontations have occurred close to the Liberian border. Next year there will be presidential elections, and the campaigning might cause unrest.
Since fighting has calmed down, many Ivorian refugees have returned home. Still, there are 42 000 Ivorian refugees residing in Liberia. For many Ivorians, who have fled from their homeland, it is not safe to go back. Many of the refugees do not even have where to go: their home might be destroyed or someone else might have taken it over.
In the mind of a refugee, the past was oppressive and the future is unclear. Many of them have experienced terrible acts of violence. Some of them had to watch their family members getting killed. The idea of going back home is a unthinkable.
In a refugee camp setting, it is crucial to take into account the group of children, who have passed the primary school age. Secondary education is often forgotten as a priority, and youth might be left alone in camp settings.
In Bahn and PTP camps for Ivorian refugees in Liberia, secondary education is provided by Finn Church Aid alone. Bahn refugee camp has had a secondary school for two school years now, and PTP camp witnessed one open in January. Enrolment rates now stand at 315 students in Bahn and 474 in PTP. For the same age group, FCA opened a skills training center in Bahn refugee camp in March.
Text and photos: Ulla Tarkka