17 May A child’s Voice from the Sahara
Project “A child’s voice from the Sahara” was started in spring 2016 when Croatian travel writer Damir Vujnovac returned from the refugee camps of the Saharawi people who live in the West of Algeria, in the middle of the Sahara desert, for forty years without the basic living conditions.
Life of Saharawis where no life is possible
Saharawis who live in the dead part of the Algerian Sahara desert were expelled from their homes in Western Sahara forty years ago. Directly dependent on the supply of potable water and humanitarian aid, without electricity, they have not forgotten to organize a society in which health and social care functions, as well as school system.
“They live, where no life is possible. But life filled with uncertainty and lack of basic living conditions did not discourage Saharawi people to enrich their lives with knowledge required for the advancement of their society. That places them above the world’s average in literacy and educational level”, said Damir Vujnovac.
The high literacy rate over 90%, the knowledge of Arabic and Spanish, but at the same time the lack of written traces of children’s culture, has led travel writer Damir Vujnovac to collect short literary works from school children from Sahara refugee camps and translate them from Arabic to Croatian and English.
Collection of short writings of Saharawi children
With a great help of their teachers, Damir Vujnovac collected short writings of Saharawi children from refugee schools. The writings were translated from Arabic to English and Croatian language, and a trilingual book of children’s dreams and wishes was published. Within a year of working on the project, holding travel presentations about Sahara and Saharawis all around Croatia, collecting the funds to print the book, appearing in all sorts of media, many people found out the story about the forgotten childhood that they didn’t know anything about.
“A child’s voice from Sahara” visit to the refugee camp Smara
By the end of February 2017 Damir Vujnovac has taken over a three hundred copies of the book together with the school supplies which were collected in cooperation with Varaždin high school students back to the refugee camp Smara. The books were subsequently distributed in thirty Saharan schools, but also distributed to the fifteen countries around the world with help of the the country representatives in the Sahara Marathon.
New plans for children of Sahara
The project does not stop here; Damir is continuously promoting the book in Croatia and abroad, and is planning a new extended edition in Spanish, Basque and German. He is also planning to bring the delegates of Saharawis children to the International Children’s Festival in Šibenik in 2018. Further on, children’s travel book “Children of Sahara” is in the phase of preparing and is planned to be launched by the end of 2017.