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Last Updated: Sunday, 19 September, 2004, 14:47 GMT 15:47 UK
Darfur aid worker's diary XX
Sacha Westerbeek
Sacha encounters US VIPs and creative children
Sacha Westerbeek is working for the United Nations children's agency, Unicef, in Sudan's strife-torn region of Darfur. She is writing a diary for BBC News Online about her experiences.

In this instalment, she travels to one of the camps set up for people who have fled their homes. With her are two important American visitors, but it is a young boy who impresses her most.

Saturday 18 September

We all know that the US - as many other countries - is highly interested in the situation in Darfur and that many VIPs have visited this area which is labelled as the "worst humanitarian crisis".

Of course these influential people want to see first hand how the situation is and they want to talk to the internally displace people - the IDPs.

Adam with his home-made toy
Adam Ahmed spends his spare time creating toys for himself
Today I had the honour to travel to Kalma IDP camp with Jim Koble and Jesse Jackson Jr.

Actually they were not supposed to come to Kalma camp at all, but due to some security incidents in West Darfur they had to find a last minute destination: Kalma it will be.

Bruce, the Water and Environmental Sanitation (WES) officer from Unicef and I offered to help out with this mission as USAid is one of the bigger donors for the Unicef WES programme and there were three media missions attached to the visit.

While the VIPs and media are introduced to the humanitarian interventions in Kalma I notice a young boy: Adam Ahmed.

It is not his smile and friendly face that attract me - no, it is the fact that he is playing with a car made out of a tin food container sponsored by the US. I thought this was extremely funny as Jim and Jesse just walked passed this little fellow.

For me this was an extreme example how far aid goes.

Adam came to Kalma three months ago after his village - Wadi Saleh - was attacked. He is more or less fortunate as he is here with both his parents and his two sisters.

He attends the second grade of the Unicef-supported school in the camp, but his sisters are not registered as there is not enough capacity yet to cater for all the children in the camp.

This bright young kid shows me with full pride his US-made vehicle and it indeed looks very nice. It must be his love for math and technical things that made this car into a functional toy.

Little to do

Adam tells me that he likes Kalma very much. When I look slightly surprised he tells me in a very clear way: "I like it here because there are no Arabs."

What he doesn't like though is the fact that there is not enough for him to eat and insufficient water to drink, cook and wash; the children around him agree with him.

Jesse Jackson Jr with children at the Kalma camp
Jesse Jackson Jr, the son of the US preacher and politician, made the unplanned trip to Kalma
Back home in his village he spends the day going to school, homework, looking after the cattle and working in the field. Here there is not much to do, but he still helps his mother and sisters with fetching water and looking for wood and when he has time left he makes vehicles out of wood, plastic bottles, clay or in this case, tin.

The last stop for Jesse and Jim is the New Arrivals. Jim discusses actively the situation of stolen cattle with the newly arrived IDPs who have been here from three days to two weeks.

Stories about burning, looting and killing are coming out over and over again and Jim promises that foreign governments have a responsibility to find a solution to the situation.

When we drive back to Nyala I wonder if Adam realises that the man who just walked past him is responsible for allocating the USAid funds. Which means for him: more or less food (USAid is a major donor to WFP) and more or less food tins to make vehicles.




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