Team Rubicon has sent 13 volunteers to the Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement, Uganda. TR is working in partnership with Feed the Hungry UK, the Office of the Prime Minister in Uganda and the local refugee population to build permanent, fuel-efficient kitchens. A second wave of ten TR personnel will be heading to Uganda at the end of June to continue work.
The Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement (KRS) is home to an estimated 100,000 refugees from predominantly South Sudan, people who have fled the civil war. Around 90% of the refugees in KRS are women and children. TR is working in eight schools within the settlement, some of which are educating (and feeding) over 5000 children. The women who cook huge quantities of rice to feed these children currently do so on inefficient open fires. Feed the Hungry asked TR to assist in the construction of permanent, secure kitchen structures to enable more effective feeding of large numbers of children and promote more sustainable use of fuel sources.
TR volunteers, also known as ‘Greyshirts’, have now been on site in the Kiryadongo Refugee Settlement for four days. The volunteers have split into three teams; one team has been building kitchens at Arnold Primary School, another has been building at Saint Bakhita Primary School and the final team has started stove construction at Bidong.
Greyshirts and local labourers working together have made great progress. At Arnold and Saint Bakhita Primary Schools, the brick work for new kitchen buildings has been completed to roof height with window frames installed, allowing the team to start another two kitchens. Our team have been working closely alongside local builders, sharing skills with a view to passing them along and supporting further construction projects.
When not engaged with building activities, Greyshirts have been able to spend some time with the refugee population.
Three female volunteers visited the home of Rachael, a 19-year-old woman that they met walking to one of the schools. Rachael lives with her mother, grandmother and two-year-old daughter. She was very open and told the volunteers about her life and the daily challenges she faces in perfect English. She was born in Uganda after her mother fled South Sudan 20 years ago. She has never been to Sudan. She had her baby when she was 17 and she doesn’t have any contact with the baby’s father. Her mother is now very unwell after having been infected with HIV by her father. Rachael is now however back in school supported by charities who help with her school fees and child care.
The team have also had happier experiences – they have been able to deliver footballs to the children on behalf of The Great Football Giveaway, which yesterday resulted in a football game involving over 300 players at the same time. Greyshirts have also been running races with the children, spending a little time in the schools teaching the alphabet and singing songs. The children have overcome their initial shyness and been very friendly and welcoming towards the team, and the team have found the experience so far touching and humbling.
TR volunteer and forces veteran Keith said, “It is really a privilege to be helping out Feed The Hungry with this project. Having been discharged from service recently, I’ve struggled with the whole ‘I’m not of use anymore’ type feeling, so helping to do something that will make a tangible difference to people’s lives out here in Uganda is quite humbling. People are genuinely happy to see us and I’ve no doubt the dinner ladies will be cooking up a treat for the kids real soon.”
The team are continuing work with further building and stove construction.
Some names in this report have been changed.