Out of Eden: Paul Answers More Questions

27 Oct

Untouchables among refugees: destitute Turkmen nomads from Syria. Kilis, Turkey. (Photo by Paul Salopek)

During the vacation, Paul Salopek wrote me directly for the first time and answered some more questions from our students. Please see his response below and read his two latest dispatches on his blog, Out of Eden.
First: Yes, I would be interested in visiting your school because I have been making educational presentations starting from the trail head in Ethiopia. I can’t guarantee when I’ll be near your area (as you note, the closest I will come is northern India) because the route ahead is so unpredictable. So let’s just keep in touch about this–it could be early to mid-2015.
Again, your interest in the walk is keenly appreciated. I’m glad to have your school walking along.
Warm regards, P.
1) What is a typical day like for a child or teenager like in the refugee camp in Kilis (from Sriya, Bahraini)?
The children in some ways have it easier than adults, because at least they can attend a camp-run school. After classes, they help with small chores in their homes, which are shipping containers–those long metal cubes that fit on the back of lorries–refitted to serve as shelters. There are several playgrounds in the camp, too. But what the children don’t have a normal town or village setting to grow up in. Their future is uncertain. For example, once they graduate from primary school, there is no guarantee that they can continue to study in secondary school, because all such schools are taught in Turkish–the language of the host country. For the parents, life is even worse: Without work, without a way to earn an income, they are trapped in the camp with no future at all.
2) What percentage (approximately) of the children are separated from their parents or family (from Lucie, France)?
Good question. I don’t have an answer. All the children I met were with their families. Children who lost their parents in the war have two options: be taken in by relatives, or go to government-run orphanages. Many of the children with families are missing fathers–many of the refugee men have stayed behind in Syria to guard family property or fight in the war.
3) What initially inspired you to take this journey (from Sunny, S. Korea and Alice, France)?
Storytelling. I had been working as a journalist for many years, and decided that this project would be a good way to tie together all that I have learned, and to string together an important series of questions–where we came from, who we are, where we are going–into a single long journey story. We all love travel stories. This is a very old way of communicating knowledge. It goes back to the very beginning of humankind.
Thanks for your great questions.

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