Thomas Conrad fundraising for Africa's Forgotten Refugee Children

Thomas Conrad

From Thomas Conrad

I believe passionately that all children deserve hope. Refugee children are among the most hopeless. Join me.

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Watoto Read is a non-profit, 501(c3), 100% volunteer organization formed to respond to the growing global refugee crisis, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa.  At present according to UNHCR, there are over 65 million forcibly displaced persons worldwide and 30% of this refugee population reside in Africa.  Over half of the world refugee population are children under the age of 18.  These are people who were forced to leave their homes, families, schools, and communities due to violence or persecution. 

Watoto Read’s mission is to resource and advocate for the education of children and young adults living in refugee camps in Sub-Saharan Africa.  Our vision is that all persons would be healthy, hopeful, productive and self-sufficient, resettling and rebuilding their communities despite having been in refugee camps.  We are partnered with Jesuit Refugee Services (JRS) who provides administrative oversight in refugee camps worldwide.  JRS serves as “our boots on the ground”.  In 2017, Watoto Read’s goal is to raise $100,000 to build 10 schools in Chad, Africa.   To date, we have raised over $70,000.  More than $6,000,000 is needed to build enough classrooms for refugee children in Chad alone.   

The situation in Chad at present is very challenging.  According to UNICEF, Chad hosts the world’s 7 largest refugee population, 60% of which are children.  The refugee population in Chad began in 2004 with the beginning of the civil war and subsequent genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan.  Escalating conflict in the South Sudanese region the last several years has resulted not only in the inability of these refugees to return home but more Sudanese continue to flee into Chad.  Conflicts in the Central African Republic and Nigeria with Boko Haram have also forced many to flee to Chad. 

Chad is rated 186 out of 188 countries in the world based on Human Development Indicators.  Poverty is widespread and for the last several years, Chad has experienced extreme drought increasing the humanitarian crisis due to lack of food source.  Over 40% of children in Chad are chronically malnourished and these numbers are rising.  Access to medical care is limited, including access to vaccinations for many preventable childhood diseases.  Sanitation is very poor with only 50% of households having access to potable water (wells).  Approximately 70% of these children have no access to primary school education.  

Due to the growing global refugee crisis, it is becoming more challenging for global agencies that support refugees such as the UNHCR, Jesuit Refugee Services, UNICEF, and the Red Cross to provide basic provisions of food, shelter, and basic healthcare.  Unfortunately, as a result, resources for provision of basic primary school education are inadequate.  Without education, an entire generation of children’s hope for a better life is lost and their chances of leaving the refugee camps are reduced.  Education provides a sense of normalcy and security in a chaotic and unstable environment.  Education provides refugee children increased opportunities for meaningful employment and the ability to assist their families; ultimately allowing them to become more productive and self-sufficient members of the global community.  Education reduces the risk of exploitation of these vulnerable children through early childhood marriage, sexual violence, slave labor, radicalism, or militarization.  Education also reduces the risk of disease through improved understanding of basic nutrition, disease prevention measures, and improved sanitation. 

Without education, these children have little chance to become productive and self-sufficient.   These children didn’t choose their circumstances.  They were merely born into them.  We implore you to help Watoto Read meet its goal this year in order that these children have HOPE to meet God’s potential for their lives and become happy, healthy, confident, and successful persons through their receipt of EDUCATION.  

If you would like more information, please visit our website at www.watotoread.com. 

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