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My First Day at Goz Amer

Today was my first day in Camp Goz Amer, the refugee camp that we had spent 6 days trying to get to.  Today was my first day in any refugee camp.  It was nothing like what I expected.  Actually, I didn’t quite know what to expect.  I had images of what a refugee camp would look like from the “Save the Children” commercials that used to come on tv, but I had no idea about what that would look like in realty.  I thought that I would feel pity and sorrow, but I didn’t.  I was amazed by a group of people, who under the harshest of circumstances, were surviving.  Circumstances that I’m pretty sure that I would not last through!   We saw the “old” refugees who had been there “temporarily” for ten years.  Their huts, made out of grass and sticks, were arranged in what I would call neighborhoods.  Many were surrounded by homemade fences, arranged by families and/or tribes.  There was a local marketplace, where produce, fabric and other items were sold.

As we rode by, some adults stopped to look, and others went about their business of gathering wood, water, or doing what they do on a daily basis.  Some stopped to look, some smiled, and some waved.  The children had one of two reactions.  Intense curiosity or fear.

We also went to the new refugee section.  These people had just arrived, about 2 months ago, and the environment was vastly different.  There were no visible (at least to me) neighborhoods, fences or communities.   Trees were not growing like they were in the old refugee area and the people looked exhausted.  They had just fled their homes, two months prior, escaping death, mourning the loss of many family members who did not escape, and leaving the only home that they knew.  I didn’t feel sorrow, but anger that the genocide of an entire people is still occurring and outrage from the world community has not happened.  I ask myself why is this happening.  I don’t have the answer.

Sharing smiles with the children.

Sharing smiles with the children.


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Jocelyn has been in the Early Care and Education field for over 45 years. Her first “job” was as an assistant in her mother’s Family Child Care program. Her professional career began over 15 years ago as a teacher’s aide in an infant care center and prior to her current position, served as the Director of Program Operations of a Head Start Program that served over 800 children and families. In between, she has held such positions as pre-school teacher, teacher trainer, workshop facilitator, program specialist, CARES Advocate, parent educator, and college instructor.


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