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Tour of Camp Djabal

Gabriel gave us a tour of Camp Djabal today. The moment that we arrived, Gabriel spotted acquaintances from previous visits. It didn’t take long for the word to spread that Gabriel was back again. As we walked the perimeter of the camp, old friend after friend appeared to greet Gabriel. It was nice to meet people from the camp that Gabriel had told us about prior to the trip, like Rahma and Ali.

I also made a new friend, Mohammoud. Mohammed is 15 years old, polite, mild mannered, and speaks very good English. As we walked and talked, I shared photos of my family and the ocean. He was mesmerized by the beautiful blue water. He asked me if I swim in it. When I showed him pictures of people swimming in the ocean, he replied, “I swim too, but not like that.” I have been especially interested in seeing what children do for fun in the camps. You do not see toys here like in the U.S. Occasionally I saw groups of boys playing soccer with a ball made from material shaped like a ball and wrapped in plastic. I have also seen the children use old bike tire rims pushed with a stick as they run. When one of Mohammed’s friends approached with one of these, I asked him to show me how it was done. The boys were really good at rolling the rim with the stick and they were really fast. Another friend brought a similar toy. This one was made from a ring of metal off an oil barrel. Tied to the ring was a strip of cloth about 2 feet long. Tied to the other end of the cloth was a stick. They used the stick to turn circles which spun the metal ring around like a wheel across the sand. I took a photo of Mohammoud controlling the ring and showed it to him. When he saw the photo, he asked, “Can you make it on paper and write my name on it and when you come back you can bring it to me.” I don’t know if I will ever see him again but I will remember his face forever.

Soon our ride appeared and once again it was time to load into the truck and head back to the UNHCR compound…leaving new friends faces imprinted in my mind.



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Melissa Holcombe

Melissa Holcombe is currently working as a My Teaching Partner Coach and Assessor in collaboration with First 5 California, the Child Development Training Consortium and Teachstone, Inc. Additionally, Melissa enjoys her adjunct position as a Child Development Instructor at San Bernardino Valley College. She holds a Masters of Education degree with a focus on early education and care. Melissa has twenty years of experience in the child development and education field. She is a member of the California Early Childhood Mentor Program and serves as a local/regional trainer. One of Melissa’s passions is developing and facilitating fun, interactive ECE workshops to teachers on topics related to increasing the quality of teaching in early child development classrooms. Melissa is excited to serve as an Expert Teacher Advisor on the Little Ripples project and is honored to be part of a wonderful project that will provide preschool services to thousands of children in Darfuri refugee camps.


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