Today we arrived in Iriba. Having “slept” last night in Abeche, we woke early to catch the UN flight to Iriba. The 12-seater plane carried our team, which now includes Daniel Roger Tam, from the UNHCR Environmental Unit, as well as a representative of Internews. Internews is our partner with Equal Access for our new “She Speaks, She Listens” radio project (Ask us about it!). The Internews Program Director was on our plane and knew Jewish World Watch and that we were his funders! Now that is a “small world!”
As we flew from Abeche to Iriba we had a birds-eye view of the landscape, spotting the intricate wadi systems, the inactive volcanic craters, small settlements of 20-30 households and then, as we approached Iriba, we were finally able to see the Iridmi camp on the left side of the plane and, in the distance, the Touloum camp to the right. After being so intimately involved in these camps for so long, having never seen or visited them, we were thrilled to finally be here. Tomorrow we will begin our visits.
In the meantime, we had several very interesting and informative meetings with the entire evaluation team. We received a security briefing with the UNHCR head in Iriba, Emmanuel, and were then joined by the number 2 in charge at UNHCR in Abeche, Florent, and Regional Delegate of the Chadian Ministry of Environment, Quality of Life and National Parks, Nelngar Younane. Later we will also be joined by CARE International, Bureau Consult International, and Commission Nationale D’Assistance aux Refugies.
We have already heard from the UNHCR reps how much they and the refugees believe in the Solar Cooker Project and believe that it is helping to reduce the amount of firewood needed by the women for cooking, thereby helping to reduce their risk of rape or attack. We are looking forward to speaking with the women themselves and hearing it directly from them over the next 5 days.