Basamat Osman Atom, from the Blue Nile region of Sudan, is training to be a teacher with the support of JRS in Maban, South Sudan (Photo: Nyamweya Omari)
Basamat Osman Atom was born just a few kilometres away from Maban, in a small market centre known as Jam in Blue Nile State, Sudan. Her story is one of resilience and deep determination.
’I was born in 1996 to Sarah and Osman Atom, and I am the oldest in a family of six girls and one boy.Before I joined the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Teacher Training Programme in Maban, I was an untrained volunteer teacher at a school in the camps. I am now in my second semester and expect to complete my Certificate in Primary Education course in December 2019.
I ran away from my home town because of the unending war in Blue Nile between the government and the opposition forces (who are called ‘rebels’). After war broke out, in 2011, my family and I ran to Maban to find shelter from the violence.
I was in the second year of secondary school in Sudan when I was forced to stop my schooling. Unfortunately, I was unable to continue my studies in Maban as there was a different curriculum, and my mother was jobless and therefore didn’t have the income to support me. After staying in the camp for three years, my mother found work as a cleaner in a private construction company. She could then send me to the neighbouring country of Uganda to continue with my studies. After only two years in Kampala, I was again forced to leave school and come back to the refugee camp because the company my mother worked for had closed down and she could no longer support me.
During school days, I wake up at 6:30am. After breakfast, I walk to the nearby market where I and some other students from the same camp will be picked to go for training. JRS currently offers a ‘day-school’ model of training where we are taken to the centre in cars by JRS in the morning and home in the evening. Funds permitting, JRS aims to extend this to provide to have a residential model of the training which will enable us to have more contact hours with the tutors.
When not in school I like to stay at home, and have tea and a chat with my mum and sisters. There is nothing much to do in Maban, so we talk and joke amongst ourselves. I sometimes give informal remedial classes to my siblings who are in primary school.
I love to cook, but conditions in the camp mean that we have very few options about what to eat. In the morning I have tea and zalabia (the Arabic name for doughnuts), during lunch we have Kisra (local food) or posho with lentils or beans. At times we have meat… if we can afford it.
At the JRS Teacher Training Centre, I came top of my class of 42 trainees in the first semester exams. Once I finish my training I hope to become a better teacher and contribute to improving the quality of education for my people. My favourite subjects are Mathematics and Science.
Like other girls my age in my community, I am under pressure from the other community members to get married. I would like for there to be more opportunity for girls to develop and grow freely and chase our own dreams. I want to see the community’s living conditions improve, so that people are happier.’
JRS offers two models of Teacher Training to 512 teachers in both the refugee and host communities in Maban. One model is meant for teachers in active service and takes four years to complete, while the other one (known as Pre-Service), takes two years.,
In addition to Teacher Training, JRS Maban provides a range of services, including English Language and Computer Courses, Counselling, general Psycho-Social Support, and Day Care Services to children living with disabilities. It also runs pastoral programmes and gives direct support to the host community where it supports Early Childhood and Development Centres and Primary Schools.
Author: Nyamweya Omari, Education Coordinator JRS Maban. April 2019