Nearly 3 million people have been forced to flee their homes since 2003 because of the ongoing conflict in the Darfur region of western Sudan. The conflict in Sudan was sparked when rebels from Darfur attacked a government air force base in 2003. For years the rebels have felt ignored by the central government in Khartoum, and feel they have been denied their basic rights. In retaliation for the 2003 attack, Sudan's military and the government-backed militias, the Janjaweed, have repeatedly attacked the residents of Darfur. The Janjaweed and government forces have burned villages, murdered and maimed residents, poisoned wells, raped women, stolen animals and other valuables, and kidnapped children. More than 300,000 Darfuris have been killed in the conflict.
Most people have moved to camps for the internally displaced within Sudan, but there are more than 271,000 Darfuri refugees currenty living in eastern Chad. In the UNHCR-run camps, refugees receive basic shelter, food, education, and health care. The Darfur Dream Team seeks to assist UNHCR in its efforts to provide a quality education to every Darfuri refugee.
By supporting their education, the Darfur Dream Team has an opportunity to help change the circumstances of Darfuri refugee children, and ensure that they can learn in the camps, go on to higher education, and become contributing members of their communities.
A refugee who remains illiterate and inarticulate will be at a serious disadvantage in defending his or her human rights. Education therefore forms the basis for income-generation activities and self-reliance – all necessary ingredients for successful living. As a whole, education is a means to preserve one’s identity, create self-esteem, be part of the community and generally hope for a better future.
"Without an education, children, including adolescents, are less likely to be healthy, grow strong, be safe or fully participate in their communities. Without an education, communities are less likely to achieve their other development goals." - UNHCR
An estimated 60% of the population in Darfuri refugee camps are children. Many of the children have lost one or both of their parents in either the conflict or the journey to Chad. Some of the children have witnessed horrendous atrocities that are extremely difficult for any adult or child to process or move past.
Education in a secure and stable school environment will help children overcome traumatic experiences and prepare them for a brighter future.
Since 2004, the United Nations has worked to provide Darfuri refugees in Chad with a quality education. However, their resources are limited, and attendance is inconsistent. While enrollment is high and children want to go to school, a shortage of qualified teachers, poorly built school buildings, and lack of supplies make it difficult to provide the refugees with a solid primary education. The primary education goals in the camp are to increase access and enrollment, improve quality and provide enhanced protection for the refugee children.
The Darfur Dream Team Sisters Schools Program firmly believes that education is a right, a protection tool, a durable solution, an international obligation and the basis for sustainable development.
John Prendergast wrote -
When Tracy McGrady of the Houston Rockets heard about the massive challenges children from Darfur were facing in the refugee camps in Chad, he decided to see for himself. After spending days listening to the harrowing stories of young Darfuris in the refugee camps and their incredible thirst for a better education, he decided to act. When Tracy and his traveling companions from the Enough Project returned, they hatched the idea for the Darfur Dream Team's Sister Schools program linking American middle schools, high schools, colleges, and universities with schools in the Darfuri refugee camps. Tracy's Journey to the refugee camps in eastern Chad is chronicled in the movie 3 Points.
The Darfur Dream Team is a dynamic partnership of organizations and professional basketball players working together on the Sister Schools Program, an initiative to connect American middle schools, high schools, colleges, and universities with sister schools in 12 refugee camps in Chad.