TRRR Visit to Buduburam Refugee Camp Near Accra Ghana
A visit by TRRR delegates to the Buduburam Refugee Camp 40 kilometers from Accra was planned as part of our 2013 TRRR conference in Ghana. With the official closing of the camp by UNHCR a year ago and the repatriation back to Liberia of most of the tens of thousands of Liberians who once resided in the camp, the services available to the approximately ten thousand Liberian refugees that have remained in the camp have been greatly reduced. Several reasons were given for why those who remain in the camp chose not to repatriate to Liberia, including concerns about their inability to start all over again in Liberia.
Nevertheless, since the Buduburam camp is considered officially closed, camp residents have been left to fend for themselves, with few prospects for employment.
Previous social services such as the primary and secondary school shut down and empty, with the majority of the children spending their days playing in the streets rather than attending school.
(For more on the ongoing plight of Liberian refugees in West Africa, go to the following link for a BBC report aired on August 12, 2013: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-23676470).
Although our full delegation was unable to visit the Buduburam camp due to a temporary mechanical problem with our chartered bus, we are glad that a smaller delegation comprised of Mr. Lawrence Varnie (Cradle of Hope, Ghana), Dr. Emmanuel Lartey (Emory Univ.), Rev. Carl Lowery (Proctor Conference), and Dr. R. Drew Smith (Pittsburgh Seminary) was able to see the situation first-hand and visit with a large gathering of parents, children, and camp leaders who assembled to meet with us at one of the church buildings. We presented the books and school supplies donated by TRRR delegates, and made a modest financial contribution toward additional educational materials.
Camp residents have been able to organize a “private” school of their own for primary level students–although most residents can’t afford to pay the $33 school fees required per term. As a concrete response, TRRR has established a scholarship fund for primary school students at the camp. Contributions can be sent to TRRR and will be channeled through a partner organization, Cradle of Hope for Relief and Development, headquartered in the camp. Checks or money orders made out to Transatlantic Roundtable on Religion and Race (and notated as going to the Buduburam Scholarship Fund) can be mailed to:
Transatlantic Roundtable on Religion and Race
2650 Martin Luther King Jr. Street, #88096
Indianapolis, IN 46208-9998