Baadre Camp

From Baadre City my companion Fawzi and I drive to the large Baadre Camp, where about 15,000 refugees live, all Esiden. It is hard to imagine what these many people have experienced, as they were treated worst of all by the IS henchmen.

Suddenly Fawzi stops and a gate opens on the left: it is as if I am looking into a kind of mini paradise. It is green and beautiful, children play on a playground, laugh, sing, wave to me. I am led into a kind of container building and am warmly welcomed by some women. There are children’s voices and laughter everywhere. Helen, the director of this center for war orphans, invites me to her office. She explains the center to me and leads me to the individual classes.

The children greet me cheerfully. Her works of art and other beautiful pictures hang on the walls. Everyone has good educational material in front of them and works with it, individually, in pairs and in groups.

Most of all I am impressed by the Montessori class: It is quite quiet, because every child works highly concentrated with some Montessori material. This is designed so that the child immediately knows how to deal with it. The tasks are therefore self-evident. When a child has completed a task, it puts the material back neatly on one of the shelves and takes a new one. It is fascinating to see how orderly, peaceful and concentrated all children work. They enjoy their work and they clearly feel respected, loved and well looked after.

I try to capture as much as possible with the camera. The children in the other classes are also very enthusiastic. Outside on the playground suddenly loud music is played. Some children dance full of energy and fun to a movement song. Others romp on the trampoline. I would love to stay here all day, however we have even more plans. I can’t get the pictures of the happy children out of my head for a long time.

As well as the sentences of Helen, the head of the Child Center: “It was my dream that the children who were freed from the hands of the IS and lost their parents would find a place full of love and joy. We give them the love they need and teach them Christian values like mutual respect, help in trouble, comfort and encouragement. My co-workers are also Esid refugees from the camp. They are trained teachers and regularly receive pedagogical training. After the 18 months that this center has been in existence, I can already see significant changes in the children. They have a sparkle in their eyes that they had lost through the terrible experiences with the IS henchmen.

Later, I learn that some of these children are the result of rapes of enslaved Esid girls and women by IS terrorists.