“I LEFT MY WHOLE LIFE BACK HOME. I WANT TOSTART OVER, SMILE WITH MY CHILDREN AND MAKE SURE THEY HAVE A GOOD EDUCATION.”
It’s a night Mwamini will never forget. Her husband had recently died, but there was no time for grief. It was time to take her children, all under 18, from the devastated village of Rutskuru, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and leave for Uganda. The goal: pursue safety with the hope of finding peace. While walking through a thick forest, she lost contact with six of her eight children. They were nowhere to be found. And may never be.
“I would never know how to explain what happened. It was dark, and I have not seen my children since,” recalls Mwamini with tears.
Living in Uganda since 2012, Mwamini’s is one of 6,600 households supported by the USAID-funded Graduating to Resilience Activity in Kamwenge District. Led by AVSI Foundation, in a consortium with Trickle Up and IMPAQ International, the project’s goal is to graduate extremely poor refugee households who fled from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and vulnerable Ugandan households from conditions of food insecurity and fragile livelihoods to self-reliance and resilience. Cash transfer is a fundamental part of the Activity because it ensures basic needs including food security are met so that households can experience the stabilization needed to engage in other activities.
Article originally published by El Pais
Monica Piloya recalls every detail of the day a land mine changed her life.
“It was midday and I had just returned from the market. The rebels had attacked our village the night before. I walked away from the main road to allow a motorcyclist to pass and I stepped on a mine. In an instant, I was on the ground. These scars on my right hand were caused by the explosion and they had to amputate my leg. I tried to protect my son who was on my back but he died in hospital due to his injuries.”
In 2003, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) led by Joseph Kony terrorized villages in Northern Uganda. LRA searched for children to recruit in their militias and young women to kidnap and rape as war trophies. Most of the mines and explosives that still reappear in rural areas can be traced back to those years.
“After three months in the hospital, my life became extremely difficult. I was a farmer, but without a leg, I could no longer work. I didn’t know how to deal with my disability. My husband left, leaving me alone,” remembers Piloya.
A refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) living in Rwanwanja Settlement, Kamwenge District, Uganda, Bugenimana Kamara describes with one word the experience she had last week (May 14-16) during the #MyVillageMyMarket event: incredible.
"I learned about the different seeds, how to plant them and when, and how to protect my crops from pests,” says Bugenimana. “I am also happy that now I know how to treat my animals using the medicines I have seen in the stalls, they will no longer just die.”
Bugenimana is one of the participants of the Graduating to Resilience Activity, funded by the Office of Food for Peace, USAID and led by AVSI Foundation in a consortium with Trickle Up and IMPAQ International. The goal is to graduate extremely poor refugee households who fled from DRC and Ugandan vulnerable households from conditions of food insecurity and fragile livelihoods to self-reliance and resilience.
For Rebecca Apio, having the chance to train with a former Italian soccer player who was part of the team that won the 2006 FIFA World Cup, is a dream coming true. Rebecca is a student at Luigi Giussani High School in Kireka, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Kampala and is sponsored by AVSI through the Distant Support Program. She is among the 350 boys and girls who are participating in the #Goal4Uganda project. Implemented by AVSI in partnership with the Italian Soccer player’s Association (AIC) and the Association CDO (Compagnia delle Opere) Sport, the project develops an educational model that promotes soccer as a tool for social inclusion and positive socialization.
“Goal4Uganda has been a great chance for me as soccer has always been part of my life,” celebrates Rebecca, who, until last year, wasn't attending school because her parents couldn’t afford it. “Here, at Luigi Giussani High School, I rediscovered my value and I feel I'm now the protagonist of my life. When we are on the field, we are all committed to a common challenge, with no differences of languages, origins, or economic situation... Together we've learned a lot, but above all we have had fun. Soccer is an exciting game and I would like to play more."
On February 4, Ayako Kaino, Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children Humanitarian Relief Specialist, Veronique Njo, UNICEF Protection Officer and Gaele Chojnowicz, UNHCR Child Protection Specialist, visited AVSI's activities in Omugo Refugee Settlement, in the North of Uganda.
AVSI has a long history of partnership with UNICEF in the Acholi sub-region supporting the health sector to strengthen maternal, newborn and child health, nutrition and education.
Within the program Ending Violence Against Children (April 2018 to March 2019) in Kyangwali and Rhino Omugo Refugee Settlements, AVSI works to improve case management and access to protection and legal services through community-level protection structures; to provide a supportive family care environment, and to promote a safe environment in schools and in communities.
During the visit, Ayako Kaino and AVSI Country Representative John Makoha inaugurated a new art mural in one of the targeted schools of the project, St. Mary’s Ocia Primary School. The art mural shows what a school means to teachers, students and the community of Omugo: a safe and violence-free environment.
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