Archive for the ‘quiet heroes’ Category


March 26, 2010


Maureen Duffy has spent 4 months in Chad working for ChildFund New Zealand as an aid worker, helping women and children driven out by the conflict, which has killed 300,000 people and left two million homeless in three years.

“Though the horrors resulting from civil war in Darfur have gained international attention, the plight of refugees forced to flee to neighbouring Chad is as dire. The conditions in Chad’s refugee camps were unpleasant and the hygiene poor. The camps are an array of mud-brick buildings and tents. The weather is dusty and hot and there’s little for people to do.

Most of the 200000 refugees were women and children. The men had been killed or recruited by rebels fighting Sudanese Government forces.

The women faced constant danger. They get raped and beaten up when they get firewood. When they get raped they don’t talk about it. That was because in traditional societies women who admitted to having been raped could be cast out and left destitute.

Our work at Childfund is mainly to educate women about gender-based violence and polygamy, a widespread practice in the area. But changing entrenched attitudes was a slow process.

While I was in Chad, tension between refugees and locals spilled over into beatings and murders. Both factions from Darfur sent troops across the border. So we, aid workers had become targets – we are seen as affluent and those who attack us don’t understand what we are doing.

My good girl-friend, Donna, who is a fellow aid worker, was taken hostage this month by some rebels, who also overran a neighbouring town. Our team of six drove into neighbouring Cameroon and fortunately negotiated her release.

However the situation is deteriorating and its getting more dangerous day by day. For the aid workers, but more so for the women and children being attacked by the rebels. And the Sudan government does NOTHING, or they don’t have the resources! I  really don’t know.

What I do know is that the world urgently needs to know about the conflict in Darfur – and about its scores of victims, as the conflict has now spread much wider. The international community needs to do more. Much more, instead of idly sitting by, as the conflict worsens. This area of Africa just doesn’t get the attention in the media, not being seen as strategically important by the West. The scale of the tragedy here in Darfur can become overwhelming…and it affects me emotionally. But when we were in the camps, we knew where we should be, doing what we should be doing, as there is so much work to be done for these poor poor people of Darfur.”

this “interview” was based upon a report on the excellent work  being done by Wellington aid worker, Maureen Duffy by reporter Colin Patterson in the Dominion Post newspaper, Wellington NZ (Monday Dec 18th 2006)


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