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On the 20th of June 2015, Educate a Child in Africa (ECA) implemented its “Play and Learn” activities in the Timangolo refugee camp located in the East Region of Cameroon. This refugee base is home to about 6873 inhabitants living in 1983 huts.

The activities brought together more than one hundred children in an open playground created by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). These activities were geared towards instilling a passion for school-going and igniting hope through education. The Educate a Child in Africa team that was dispatched for the mission created a serene atmosphere for the children to play, learn and sing educational songs.

The children were divided into groups of ten and a leader appointed to head a group. The leader of the group and other outstanding members were given the opportunity to create fun game activities. In scenarios where it was difficult to create, Educate a Child in Africa introduced its activities and got the children engaged. The different activities implemented were, inter alia, “My Golden Suitcase”, “Shape Tracker” and “Secret Inspiration”. At the end of the activities, the children wanted more. They surrounded the Educate a Child in Africa team as if they did not want the team to leave.

The presence of refugees in Cameroon dates back to 2013 during the political upheaval in the Central African Republic. This situation resulted in an influx of thousands of families into the East and Adamawa Regions of Cameroon. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) created about eight temporary camps for these refugees. To exacerbate the situation, the malicious activities of the insurgent group Boko Haram has led to a massive influx of Nigerian refugees into the Far North Region of Cameroon.

Play is a fundamental aspect in the education of a child. The children of the Timangolo refugee camp manifested their love and desire for play through Educate a Child in Africa’s activities. School-age children always leave the camp during school hours to work in gold mines that are located around the camp. The majority of these children (and their families) don’t think that education is important. However, the children said they would forgo anything to play. Integrating learning in play could therefore be key to their development.