‘I saw sadness in her eyes, when she ran into our office’

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‘I saw sadness in her eyes, when she ran into our office’

By Nicholas Shawn Mugarura,

With funding from the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations.
In a partnership with Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), Care and Assistance for Forced Migrants (CAFOMI) through the Information, Counselling and legal assistance (ICLA) project is supporting refugees & vulnerable host communities in Nakivale & Oruchinga Refugee settlements to improve their access to protection services including, Collaborative dispute resolution, Refugee status declaration, Legal & civil documentation, housing land & property rights and Employment & labour laws.

CAFOMI implements in Isingiro and Kampala for Urban refugees, delivering Gender Based Violence and Child Protection (CP) components of the project. CAFOMI does preventive and responsive CP interventions and legal counselling.

CAFOMI also works to foster access to information through community campaigns, dialogues, focus group discussions and community sensitization using the Age Gender and Diversity lens for a community led protection.

Widowed Mukamana Beatrice, Rwandan refugee, 50 years old, a mother of 9, took on sole responsibility to raise her children after the demise of her husband when they had just reached in Uganda.

She’s unemployed and mostly survives by digging in neighbours’ gardens. Makamana also frequently cycles to Kajaho a nearby trading centre in Oruchinga Refugee settlement, Isingiro district where they buy small essential goods to sustain life through the month, though the rations have been cut leaving drastic changes within the refugee communities.



Mukamana with some of her children, shortly after she cycled from Kajaho trading centre at Oruchinga refugee settlement.

On top of all her daily struggle to put food on the table for her children, Mukamana was also faced with family conflict, she recently had misunderstanding within her family, her son whose shoulder she hoped to lean on, since he is the eldest instead ganged up on her, with his newly found love, Mukamana’s daughter in-law.

 “I had challenges with my son Elis, he had wanted to kill me over a house, and I had to run for help from humanitarian workers, luckily enough I met Maria, a CAFOMI staff, she quickly intervened, I felt relieved and at ease.” Mukamana lamented.

Conflict can happen when family members have different views or beliefs that clash. Sometimes, conflict occurs when people misunderstand each other, the Issues of conflict that aren’t resolved peacefully can lead to arguments or worse.

If not managed early enough, conflict makes some people become intentionally hurtful, aggressive and or even violent. That’s why it’s imperative to have legal and psychosocial professionals in refugee settlements.

CAFOMI Protection team through alternative dispute resolution mechanisms i.e. mediation, successfully reunited Makamana with her eldest son Elis Muryambibi after a long standing rift over property ownership. She’s currently living in harmony with her family.

“I saw sadness in her eyes, when she ran into our office, I quickly arranged for a home visit after hearing mukamana’s story, regarding land and property dispute, during meditation we noticed a lot of misunderstanding amongst the family members, after sharing counselling and legal advice, family members came to some form of understanding and they reconciled.” CAFOMI Legal Assistant at Oruchinga refugee settlement, Maria Opolot Aminat said.

The team was able to also clear the allegations of tribalism that had come up, they sensitized the persons of concern about the dangers of tribalism and emphasized the aspect of peaceful co-existence.

“As humanitarian workers our role is to emphasize and enlighten the persons of concern and nationals in host communities on protection issues.” CAFOMI Caseworker, Coleb Agaba said.

Mukamana is just one of the hundreds that CAFOMI protection team is supporting in Isingiro and Kampala. Mukamana is grateful that this issue with her son was solved, but there are other key issues within her family, she can’t put her children through school, all schools need school dues, and she can’t afford that.

She said that education for her children is her only ray of hope, she calls upon good will ambassadors to support her children through school.

Angellic is mukamana’s last born, she is 6 years old, she’s passionate about going to school but spends most of her time at home supporting with home chores due to lack of school dues.

“If you ask anybody, what the vital needs of a refugee are, they will always tell you, water, shelter, food, medicines. I think we should also add education, education is as vital as water, only water without education doesn’t give them a future.” Commissioner of UNHCR, Filippo Grandi said, during his interview with UN spokesperson, Melissa Fleming in her podcast “Awake at night.

One child, one book, one pen can change the world, we call upon good will ambassadors to come up and support refugees especially children. Children are the most vulnerable in refugee camps, they have been taken away from their friends, families, schools to start new lives in strange environments.


Author is Communications Assistant at CAFOMI


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