– Oct 19, 2012
Forced to flee from his village in Darfur when he was 17 years old, Khalid has spent the last few years starting a new life in Rayad, where he is working to inspire and empower young people. He fled with his five sisters and two brothers to the town of Jebel Moon in 2002, following a brutal raid on their village by rebels. It was here that they heard rumours of a newly established camp for displaced families just outside El Geneina.
Fearing that the women would be attacked by armed rebels during the long journey to El Geneina, Khalid and his family decided to leave the sisters behind in Jebel Moon with extended family members while they investigated rumours of the El Geneina camp.
“It was a very difficult time for us, we didn’t know what was going to happen,” says Khalid as he recalls his decision to separate from his family that night.
Khalid and his brothers found refuge in the Rayad internally displaced people camp, ran by the United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR. The brothers waited for 6 months before they made the dangerous return journey to fetch their sisters and reunite the family.
Khalid made the most of his time in the camp. He learned to make construction bricks, which provided a small income for him and his family. From this new skill, he was able to rent a small house just outside of the camp. Soon, Khalid began participating in a War Child Canada sponsored committee for young people living in the camps and the surrounding area. Eager to become more involved in the running of the youth group, Khalid began volunteering for its committee.
Reflecting on his personal growth, he says: “Through the youth committee, I was able to attend War Child trainings and learn many new skills such as leadership skills, lifeskills and volunteerism. I gained a lot of self confidence through my involvement.”
But Khalid wasn’t just stopping there. In 2011, he was elected head of the youth committee at Rayad. “I regularly go and speak with other youth who are still in the camp for displaced people at Rayad,” he says with a confident smile. “I have gained the respect of many other young and feel proud of myself. I feel we are able to have a positive influence on many other young people in this area.”
Khalid’s inspiring story is typical of those we hear from our program in Darfur. By offering young people opportunities to grow, we foster a more safer and more stable environment for the community as a whole. So successful is the programme that our local staff are often approached by the community with requests to expand it. If you would like to support it, donate here.