Yesterday I took Bronte out of school for the afternoon to take her to Sydney Olympic Park to learn about life in a a refugee camp set up by Medecins Sans Frontieres Australia Whilst the kids didn't quite get it all, it was a good learning tool - I was both amazed and shocked by the experience.
Learning that refugees often arrive at camps set up by this privately funded organisation with volunteer doctors, nurses and other personal through extreme conditions. one at camp families are set up in a very small tent with each person being allocated 20 litres of water per day and a small plate of rice, maize and beans - mixed with a mixture of water and oil - there is no green vegies, fruits or meats. Once a camp is a little more settled more permanent structures are set up - the aim is to provide 3 square meters per person which is rarely met. An aim of 1 toilet per 20 people is allocated and is set up close to tents to encourage use. Illnesses and various outbreaks are common as is malnutrition in young children.
Tours were provided free of charge by returned field workers, their time and effort was worth while and very much an eye opener. There are 2 more camp set up's in Australia during September - click on the above link to see where.
The task of collecting water for each family member is often given to the girl in the family at about 7 - 8 years of age - often having to carry this water up to 500 metres - here Bronte can barely lift it.
During our visit Sydney Morning Herald Photographer Peter Rae took some shots of the girls playing inside the tent and one of his remarkable photo's (quite large) was featured on page 3 of the most read papers in Sydney headed Sydney shock: a refugee camp at Olympic Park - National - smh.com.au I also very much agree with his caption on this pic this tent was rather tiny, I have to duck down to squeeze through the opening and the bed behind was not long enough for Bronte to stretch out.
They are also featured in the related multimedia - Life in a refugee camp. http://www.smh.com.au/interactive/2008/national/refugee-camp-msf-2008/index.html
As it happens when I arrived home from this trip my husband had news of our owners selling our house so we are now in the process of having to find new accommodation - I could not even com template living in a tent and the thought of downsizing any accumulated furniture is daunting enough, let alone the number of weeks we have to search for suitable accommodation. Some food for thought.