Six months ago, Malaz Mustafa (7) had to flee South Sudan to Darfur. Now she has found a safe haven with access to clean water, schools and health care.
We see her right away with a smile that goes from ear to ear as she keeps track of the queue of water jugs to be filled.
We are in Bilel, a camp for refugees and IDPs where NCA has provided clean water for a number of years. We are in the camp to look at our water stations when we see the cheerful girl.
Concentrated and structured, she shows how the queuing system works around the taps. She quickly moves the water jugs as soon as they fill up, while at the same time making sure that her beautiful brown shawl does not get wet.
In the middle of the arid landscape, Bilel is located outside Sudan's second largest city, Nyala in Darfur. Here, people have been fleeing to safety from conflicts in Darfur and South Sudan for a number of years.
There is still a steady stream of people fleeing to the camp, which continues to grow in size. One of those who has recently arrived is seven-year-old Malaz Mustafa. Life in her hometown of Wau in South Sudan was no longer safe, so her family have now sought refuge in Bilel.
The UN estimates that 400,000 people have lost their lives in the conflicts in South Sudan, while new figures show that more than 700,000 South Sudanese have sought refuge in Sudan.
Malaz was only six years old when the family had to leave everything to start a new life in Bilel. Now they have lived here for half a year, Malaz and the siblings have started school, and the family has started a new stage in life.
- I am in second grade now, and would like to become a doctor. I am very happy to be at school, says Malaz.
Even though she is new to the camp, she has already made friends and they always have a lot of play going on.
- The most fun is to jumprope, that's what I do the most, she smiles.
Malaz lives in a small house of straw, only a few hundred meters away is the water station. It is her job to go get water, something she does every day. But in addition to fetching water for her family, she helps at the water station.
Clean water for victims of the Darfur conflict, which started 17 years ago, has changed the lives of the nearly 40,000 people who live there. The water has provided fertile ground for health clinics, food delivery for education and training for people in need.
NCA was there to provide assistance with water, tents, blankets, hygiene kits and psychosocial help when the conflicts ravaged the worst, and since then we have helped to further develop the camp.
Although the hope of returning to their homeland will always be there, NCA is doing what we can to change the lives of Malaz and fleeing people. The power of clean water provides new opportunities.
- Now I have to go home with the water, Malaz smiles, as she waves goodbye to us and walks away with a full water jug.
Photos: Håvard Bjelland / Norwegian Church Aid.