ISINGIRO – Getting basic needs such as shelter, clothing, education, food, and healthcare are key for survival but not to refugees because the humanitarian aid they get remains insufficient to meet these essential needs.
The women refugees at Nakivale refugee settlement are now vesting their hopes in skills training, optimistic this can enable them earn an income to supplement this humanitarian aid they say is not enough.
Ms Diane Furaha 25, a single mother of three says she has not been able to send her children to school despite free primary education due to lack of scholastic materials.
“Yes there is free education here at primary level but my children cannot go to school because I cannot afford scholastic materials and uniform so I have to keep them home,” said Furaha, who was among the 38 pioneer graduates of Nakivale sewing programme initiated and funded by Pathways Hope for Africa, a US non-governmental organisation at Nakivale refugee settlement.
Ms Furaha who said lost her husband to insurgencies in DRC before she fled to Uganda added even the food ratios given are not enough.
Elizabeth Niragira from Rwanda who has stayed in Uganda since 2014 said they are optimistic that given the skills they can be able to work and supplement the modest humanitarian aid they get.
“It’s very challenging to live as a beggar, you are hopeless and remain traumatised but even you can be sure of having an income of facilitating your needs even in the refugee status you remain hopeful and encouraged for a better future,” said Ms Niragira.
These refugees added its worse to single mothers and young ladies who end up joining risky schemes to survive.
“It’s very challenging especially to ladies who cannot have a side income, you find you can’t even get money to buy sanitary towels, smearing oil, soap and to ladies this means a lot and as a result we get exploited for survival,” says Ms Leatitia Kabali.
Mwati Kitonga Sosthenes, a pastor at Community Pentecostal Churches on International Mission of Evangelism said its true most women for failing to satisfy their needs end up in prostitution for survival and drug abuse.
Officiating over the graduation ceremony on Saturday at new Sagano in Nakivale refugee resettlement Pathways Hope for Africa country director Grace Nakiyaga Mubiru said the organization that started skilling refugees last year focuses on empowering young women and mothers who are needy, marginalized and traumatised to live a decent and dignified life.
“We are working to restore dignity where it has been lost in young women who have been abused, marginalized and traumatised. Last year we chose to partner with other stakeholders in refugee management to offer skills training,” said Ms Nakiyaga.
She said after giving skills to these mothers, Pathways has now partnered with MOBANI Savings and Credit Cooperative which operates in this settlement to stand as their guarantors such they can receive soft loans as startup capital to buy equipment and materials and start business.
Nakiyaga said Nakivale sewing programme is a long term programme of over five years and some of the skills offered under here including weaving, knitting, and fashion design.