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 Report - IFRC Newsletter, August 2001 (IFRC)

 Report date: 31.07.2001

Summer Camp

A Pilot Summer Camp Project targeting fifty children from the Southern Camps and Lenkoran Boarding School has just finished in Lenkoran region of Azerbaijan
(24 July - 12 August 2001)

Author: Nigar Garibova, Information/Reporting Officer, Delegation in Azerbaijan.

Ten days apart from parents

When any disaster takes places, it is helpless children and elderly people who suffer most. And at the end of the day they are the most vulnerable people in all emergency situations.

To-date, there are more than 11 thousand IDP children living in the Southern Camps in Sabirabad, Saatli and Bilasuvar districts of Azerbaijan. Most of them were born in the Camps and the only home they know are the mud houses they live in - cold in winter, hot in summer time and wet all year long. Parents, which are aiming all their efforts to survive and earn a piece of bread for their families, do not have capacities to organize children's free time. To address the needs of IDP children living in the Southern Camps, the Azerbaijan Red Crescent

Children sharing their impressions
Society (AzRC) under supervision of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (Federation) currently implements the Children Support Project in all seven camps located in Sabirabad, Bilasuvar and Saatli districts. This project is a component part of the Community Development Programme, and aims at meeting the children's developmental needs through organizing meaningful free time activities and educating adults in addressing children's development and health needs. " I joined this Project as a volunteer, and as the time passed I realized that it had become a part of my life," says Solmaz Maharramova, the AzRC Children Support Programme Officer from the Sabirabad Regional Centre."Before the Children Support Project was initiated, the only occupation children had after classes at school, was just "doing nothing" except fighting with mosquitoes and flies inside their tiny wet houses. With nearly no electricity supply to the camps the children could not be even kept busy with reading."Drina Karahasanovic, Community Development Field Delegate recalls the time when the Children Support Project had been just initiated: "We started with a small number of those interested and now we have about 100 volunteers, which actively participate in organizing different types of activities for children like drama, fine arts, sports and folklore circles. If you have ever seen the eyes of children born in the IDP camps and for whom a feeling of "sweet home" is nothing but a dream, you would easily understand that those who are involved in working with these children, always try to keep track of their needs and address them properly as much as possible".

National Society staff and volunteers sharing 
concerns with the Head of Delegation
 and the Federation staff
During one of the meetings in May 2001 held to discuss further activities under the Children Support Project, the Regional Centre and the Federation staff came up with idea to organize a Summer Camp for some 50 IDP children in one of the picturesque regions of zerbaijan. Enthusiasm over this idea among the staff and the volunteers was that high that joint activities of Sabirabad and Lenkoran Regional Centres supported by seven volunteers resulted in starting the Pilot Summer Camp Project funded by the Swedish Red Cross on 24 July 2001. The Federation supported by the funds of the Swedish Red Cross took upon itself the responsibilities related to transportation of children from the Southern Camps to Lenkoran Summer Camp, purchase of swimming suits and hygiene items for all the children, T-shirts, caps, sunglasses, bed sheets, blankets, as well as provision of food. Local authorities of Lenkoran region contributed with the premises to be adjusted for the Camp. The building belongs to the Ministry of Sport and used to be its Summer Guest House. Natig Aliyev, Samira Latifova, Rovshan Kerimov, Tarana Guliyeva, Almaz Bagirova, Elvina Rasulova , the AzRC volunteers arrived five days earlier to make preparations for official opening of the Camp.

Fine art activities
"The former Summer Guest House turned out the deserted building which definitely needed renovation. But we did not give up and decided to try our best to fit it for children ", says Ilham.Isgenderov, one of the AzRC volunteers mobilizer in Sabirabad Regional Centre. "Our volunteers and staff of both Sabirabad and Lenkoran Regional Centres cleaned the rooms and the territory of the Camp and made some elementary repair where needed. We also contacted the local authorities and shared with them our concerns regarding lack of electricity supply to the Camp. We appreciate their prompt re-action and connecting the territory of the Camp up to the electricity line of the military unit located nearby."

For ten days this wonderful place on the coast of the Caspian Sea was the home for 20 IDP children from the Southern Camps and 5 children from the Lenkoran Boarding School. "We identified the most vulnerable children out of 2170 in total covered by the Children Support Programme and selected orphans and those from the families with many children. Although the age limit was from 10 up to 13, we included also three kids of 6 years old as they turned the most vulnerable children in the camps," says Solmaz Maharramova. The instructors from the Regional Centres (staff and volunteers) organized activities like drawing, dancing, sports, swimming as well as First Aid training classes. "We don't even have time to get homesick as our instructors keep us busy with a number of interesting activities all day long," children shared with the Federation staff that paid visit to the Summer Camp. "Our parents first hesitated to let us leave for the Summer Camp as we were supposed to live far from them for 10 days. But we felt so happy to be here and so sorry that it is over "

The Federation staff visiting the 
children in the Summer Camp
A second shift of the Summer Camp scheduled for another 25 children from the Southern IDP Camps as well as for children from Lenkoran Boarding School started on 2 August and ended on 12 August 2001, thus marking the end of this Pilot Project. "We may say now that this Pilot Project succeeded, and if we get positive feedback from both our donors and beneficiaries we intend to re-launch it next summer. Besides, it would be a good opportunity for the AzRC to raise some funds to achieve self-sustainability of the project in future," Drina Karahasanovich said.

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