Graduating to Resilience, an activity implemented by AVSI Foundation and funded by the Office of Food for Peace, USAID gives hope to congolese refugees like Mwamini and her two children
May 7, 2019 — 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. Consumption support via cash transfer is a fundamental part of the activity.
"I received UGX 54,000 from the cash transfer activity. I will use part of it to pay for my children’s schooling and invest some in my small business,” celebrates Mwamini, who lives with her two children, Zaina, 11, and Fatuma, 14, in Ntenungi Zone in Rwamwanja Refugee Settlement.
She wakes up early in the morning to cultivate her garden of maize and beans and, later in the day, works on her small shoe trade business, walking through the refugee settlement in search of customers.
Mwamini misses the days she spent in Rutskuru in the company of her entire family, but she is determined to build her skills for a bright future. Her monthly income from corn and beans and her small business is making it possible to meet the immediate needs of her family. The consumption support via cash transfer is allowing her to buy more and better food, while through the coaching sessions offered by the Graduating to Resilience Activity she is learning how to save money and when it’s the right time to plant.
Now her children go to school every morning after eating breakfast, confiden that they will return home to a hot meal and Mawamini is confident they will have a better future.
“I am determined to boost my business,” says Mwamini, who is planning to invest the money she will receive in the next cash transfer in her vegetable garden. "I left my whole life back home. This time, I want to start over again, smile with my children and make sure they have a good education.”