UCU students bring smiles on faces of refugees

By Samuel Tatambuka

Prisca (not real name), lives in Village Nine Zone One. She is a victim of domestic violence and has no right in her home. She can not spend a night without receiving slaps from her husband. She says that his insults are like blows before the real blows come. Things have even got so complicated that her husband has thrown her out of the house and married four other women.

“My husband beat and threw me out of the house. He married another woman and neighbours told me he had other four. I am scared and insecure because he vowed to kill me,” Prisca said.

 She told us that instead of home sweet home, hers is now a house of horror and anarchy fuelled by alcoholism and irresponsibility from her husband.

“I know quite a number of my friends, who will show you bright eyes but have deformities in their hearts. Their suffering is hidden behind a mask of smiles yet they are brutalised by their husbands,” she added.

The distance from Kampala to Yumbe is tiring, but such strenuous experience could not stop us from telling Prisca’s story. We set off at 6:00am and arrived at 8:30pm. We were committed to our cause to the extent that even severe road conditions could not divert us from the goal.

The urge to empower refugees such as Prisca at Biddibidi Camp Yumbe district in West Nile region, by students from Uganda Christian University (UCU) undertaking development studies, human rights, peace and humanitarian intervention, was unstoppable.

At the camp, pain and disappointment hang in the air, as men justified caning their children and wives. Men and women pinned one another for causing domestic violence and for the wasteful life that their children lived.

Such social problems are why the UCU students guided discussions on how to end these challenges in BiddiBidi.

According to Lege Anyangson, a refugee’s welfare LC3 chairperson, some of the contributing factors to domestic violence are alcoholism, unemployment and immorality.

“We have realised that due to unemployment and immorality in the camp, men no longer support their families, hence the fights,” Anyangson said.

The students put more emphasis on family discussions, trust, engaging children and acquiring an enterprising skill as some of the ways of eliminating this vice.

Nsenga Steven, a student of bachelor of human rights, peace and humanitarian intervention, advised men to be role models to their children and to always respect their wives. 

The refugees were also trained in making reusable sanitary pads and creating income generating activities.

Dawa Lillian, a volunteer with the International Rescue Committee, said the skills imparted in the refugees by UCU students will enable them live a sustainable life and girls keep in schools.

In addition to supporting refugees, the objective of this exercise was to expose the students to practical field experience on how to serve and empower the vulnerable people to come out of biting poverty.

Biddibidi Settlement Camp covers over 250 square kilometres, stretching southward from South Sudan border, into Yumbe and Moyo districts, along the western bank of the Kochi River. There are about 270,000 South Sudanese.

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