School initiatives

REFUGEE CAMP IN YOUR CITY inTENTsive care with Médecins Sans Frontières

Tent home for a refugee family
Tent home for a refugee family

In September students from Coonabarabran High School visited Sydney as part of their cultural exchange program with the Beverley Hills and Chatswood Intensive English Centres.

Coonabarabran High is a comprehensive, co-educational, high school with a Year 7-12 enrolment of around 420 students. It is located on the Newell Highway on the southern edge of Coonabarabran in Central-West NSW Australia. It is near the Warrumbungle National Park and world-famous Siding Spring Observatories.

Beverley Hills and Chatswood Intensive English Centres are parts of large metropolitan high schools in south western and northern Sydney. The Centres aim to meet the needs of newly arrived students who speak a language other than English at home. The students come from many different cultures and speak a diverse range of languages. Some of the students are refugees.

During the visit students from the three schools went to an exhibition in Martin Place, REFUGEE CAMP IN YOUR CITY: inTENTsive care with Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders).

There are forty two million people throughout the world who are either refugees or internally displaced persons (IDPs) and have fled in search of safety from armed conflict. At REFUGEE CAMP IN YOUR CITY, their experiences and everyday life were interpreted by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Australian returned field workers who have witnessed life in a refugee camp first-hand. Actual materials used by MSF were set up in a realistic way in Martin Place. These included refugee housing tents, a food distribution tent, water bladder and pump, health clinic, vaccination tent, nutrition tent, cholera treatment centre, and a landmines education area.

The MSF field workers demonstrated the various types of shelter used in a refugee crisis, and how food is distributed. They talked about how water sources and latrines are treated to prevent epidemic outbreaks. They explained how MSF monitors the health of displaced people and implements vaccination and nutrition programs to treat them. They discussed the dangers and insecurities that are commonplace in camps, and the effects of displacement on mental health.

Several students were refugees from Burma which gave greater poignancy to the experiences described by the guides. All the students were very moved by the exhibition.

In 2009 the exhibition will travel to Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.

For more information : go to MEDECINS SANS FRONTIERES