The connecting flight was cancelled on the way to Farchana, the main base for Cord’s work in the refugee camps in Eastern Chad.

So plan B was a longer drive at the other end. It was worth it though to feel a sense of arriving somewhere rather than just dropping in. And of the landscape, a composition of subtle, watercolour washes to the horizon, under-coat for sharper detail not yet given shape. The pinkish-brown dusty dirt road and dry, sandy river beds; yellow-green patches of grassy stubble trying to do its best under the circumstances but fading a bit with the effort; grey- green shrubs whose vicious thorns, that can shred anything, even give goats pause to nibble carefully. In the distance the pale blue sky gradually lifting clear of the ground- hugging haze. All counting the weeks to rain.

The other colour today was a brighter yellow. It stood out more because it was in a quite dark room. Hawa Ramadan Abdalla was wearing it. She has 5 children aged 10- 13 and is 35 years old. She volunteered her age. We had a laugh when I said I hadn’t asked because, where I come from, it’s not something you ask a lady you just met!

Hawa was waiting for a mechanic to come and fix the flour mill. Looking a bit bored, it must be said, leaning on the hopper where the maize goes in, as the guy hadn’t shown up when he said he would. But she still had to wait in case he did finally. The Parent’s Association she is in operate the grinder to make some money to spend on the school her children go to. Everyone needs to turn their maize into flour. Gradually added and constantly stirred into boiling water it becomes almost solid, filling porridge. A staple accompaniment to a bean stew, maybe some vegetables or a special occasion fish or chicken - a tough, village one that’s spent its life running around escaping the pot.

The UN agencies’ diminishing budgets mean less money for schools. ‘Encouraging self-sufficiency’ is the spin. Teachers had a one-month cut in their allowance last year, from 12 months to 11, this year to 10. The food ration to refugees (and all the teachers are refugees) was recently cut too so nearly 2/3 of the food they relied on, they now have to find some other way. Many are starting to think of leaving teaching altogether. A few already have. It turns out being a farm labourer can be a better option. So Parents Associates, like Hawa’s, have to raise the money to help pay teachers, repair school roofs, doors and desks, buy books and chalk. Get self- sufficient; easy to say. So she has to wait.