Life is tough for children in Chad. Most have grown up knowing violence and social instability, four out of five can't read (rising to nearly 90% for girls), most don't have access to safe water and for the vast majority electricity is unknown (only an estimated 1-1.5% of the country's population has access to electricity). Children in Chad, in the main, live in abject poverty with Chad considered the seventh poorest country in the world with 80% of its population living below the poverty line. Thousands have either been abducted to become child soldiers or have voluntarily take up arms to fight for a better future in a land where there often seems no future at all.
As one twelve year old boy stated "I entered the 'army' by myself. Neither my mother nor father, or anyone else asked me to join. I saw the situation in which we were living -- it was very hard. I entered the army to deal with the aggression we were suffering in my territory." Children in Chad know that it is unlikely that they will reach fifty years old and should they have children themselves nearly 10% will die at birth. Worse still, Chad is known as a source of child trafficking both internally ~ where they are used as domestic slaves, as beggars, as cattle herders or to help the fishermen ~ and also externally to countries such as Cameroon and the Central African Republic for similar tasks as well as sexual exploitation.
There are also many refugee children within Chad with an estimated 55000 refugees from the Central African Republic, 280,000 refugees from the Sudan and a further 170,000 internally displaced people. Despite all of this life goes on for children in Chad. Most live in families with around six siblings with older children helping their mother's see to the younger children. Boys will assist the family by tending to the goats and cattle and when older assisting their fathers in their work normally sowing and harvesting crops whilst girls help around the house with chores such as sweeping the courtyard and fetching water from the local well.
Children in Chad rise around 6am with a breakfast often made from millet paste left over from the night before mixed with milk. Then, with the smell of smoke from the household fire still fresh in their nostrils, its a walk to the nearest village school made of clay walls with a tin roof with classrooms of one teacher with around seventy other pupils.
For many its a basic education of learning to read and write, but some teachers also provide lessons in maths, science, history and geography. On the return home its time for children in Chad to undertake their daily chores leaving a bit of spare time for football or other games such as skipping or hopscotch. By 6pm the sun is setting and its time for an evening meal of millet paste with sauce then bed by 8pm ready for another day. The video belowis about children in Chad who have no access to safe water together with facts and figures about children's lives in Chad.
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