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An interesting Commute!

27 Mar

Hello everyone in the blogosphere (did I just make that up?), firstly apologies for the delay in my first blog post coming, I’m not that social media savvy if the truth be told! My name is Andy Pask and over the past 6 months as part of the brilliant peaceworker scheme i’ve been on placement with an organisation called Cord exploring the peacebuilding potential of a solar cooker project that is being run in a refugee camp in Eastern Chad. I was fortunate to be able to visit Chad and the project for a second time in January and thought it would be nice to share some of my initial reflections from the trip.

The first thing I noted was that my commute to work was far from normal….. Sometimes I get stuck in a traffic jam on the motorway on my way to my base at Cord’s office in Leamington Spa but commuting in Chad was a whole new ball game! Using the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) I took three flights from the Chadian capital of N’Djamena before finally arriving on a dirt airstrip in Farchana, Ouaddai Province in Eastern Chad. Flying over endless miles of desert to get my destination combined with the fact that the only air service available is supplied by the UN told me instantly that this area is remote!

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As I travelled in the car from the airstrip I could see that the rivers were all long dried up (the rainy season ended in October), vegetation was scarce and the earth looked scorched from the daily onslaught by the sun. So why I hear you ask do people live here? The simple answer is many people have no choice and no other place to go. Cord works in this area in four of the refugee camps created as a consequence of the conflict in Darfur back in 2003. The refugees I have met would love to go back to Darfur but conflict continues there, even to this day…..

For me, the climate there served as a daily reminder of how hostile life is living in that region, you only need to spend 5 minutes outside in the sun there to fully appreciate why peacebuilding and access to education and jobs is necessary for the refugees to help themselves shape a different future that means that they are no longer defined as victims of conflict but more able to work independently for a better future.

Whilst I was in Chad I had the privilege of supporting the Cord Team with an evaluation of the solar cooker project. We were seeking to understand how solar cookers can impact a number of different areas and in particular conflict in the region. The results from the evaluation were very positive and showed that many things had changed for the better as well as there being lots of potential for the future (i’ll blog a bit more about this in a separate post).

Thanks for reading, please get in touch if you have any thoughts/questions, it would be great to hear from you.

Bye for now, for those of you going to the QPSW conference at Swanick tomorrow, see you there!

Andy

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