Under a Tree, Waiting

Written by Alex Geesey, RN

This past October, I had the privilege of going to Uganda and visiting a settlement called Rhino Camp through Global Refuge. There are about 400,000 refugees in this camp, comprised mostly of South Sudanese and Congolese. These people have been fleeing their homes because of war.  

There are many non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that help with the efforts to aid these refugees. One of the biggest suppliers of aid comes from the United Nations. Their branch that focuses on refugee care is called the UNHCR. While I was in Uganda for 3 weeks, I had the opportunity to go to the UNHCR's main meeting that occurs every three months. When I walked into the meeting, I was in awe. 

There were about 50 people who are the most involved and influential in regards to humanitarian aid in Uganda. They were all discussing everything that went on for the year of 2017 and everything they hope to accomplish for 2018 for Rhino Camp. I had no idea how complex running a refugee camp could be! Really difficult issues came up like child labor, lack of education, abuse, lack of female security guards, and health concerns. 
The biggest issue that stood out to me was the difficulty there is in finding people jobs. 

It is extremely unlikely that a refugee will be able to find a job in the camp because there simply are so few jobs available.

One day I was talking to a man from South Sudan who had lived in the refugee camp for about 2 years. The thing that he said was the most difficult was to not find work and have to sit around under a tree, waiting. He has no other option but to sit and wait for the war to end, which sadly, looks like there is no end in sight. It forced me to really put myself in a refugee's position.

Imagine having a full time job, supporting your family, working hard and trying to provide a good future to your kids. Then war breaks out. You flee. You spend years without any way of being able to work. The man I talked to said that he is already traumatized from the atrocities he has seen from the war, and not being able to work just makes the emotional pain so much worse.  

Sadly, this is the story of many people I met. The system is still broken. People are still suffering. Education and job training are things that are being worked on but there is still a long ways to go.

Global Refuge is taking on this huge need. This was one of the things I was most impressed with in the way Global Refuge operates. 

They offer jobs to refugees. That's a big deal! 

All the employees of Global Refuge said how grateful they are to be able to work. It has transformed their lives.

Their days of just sitting under a tree and waiting are over. 

At Global Refuge, one of our 2018 goals is to help facilitate the employment of many more refugees. In the coming weeks, Global Refuge staff will be assessing job possibilities for victims of war in DR Congo, northern Uganda and Bangladesh. 

We envision people living in difficult areas of displacement SURVIVING and starting to THRIVE again!