WEEKLY MEETING AT THE CRCU THIS 10 JULY 2019
The day was sunny today and no rain and dust disturbed the participants. As usual a cane of water was put at the entry of the gate to allow every one who entered the gate to clean his hands in order to avoid the possibility of contamination by the Ebola outbreak as the news has been spread all over that the virus might have been introduced to Uganda by two family members who died a couple of days after bein put in an isolation centre. Around 400 people attended the meeting at the community centre where most of them found comfort and encouragement after they had been discouraged by other NGOs which abused and undermined them. They said at least here, at the community we can hear our languages and see our tribe mates; at least there a flag reflecting the colors of our mother land waved to remind us about the foods and the drinks we always got without a lot of pain; the green grass and fresh air we breathed without looking left and right by fear to be reminded that home land was on fire and blood shed; the schools and centres we attended without minding the discriminating teachers and trainers who offer half only and never forget to charge you more for the less they assume you deserve; the roads and streets we then walked elegantly without minding the “Kifesi”, “Kitata” or the “Mitayimbwa” you dare to report and no one hears you when they rather perceive that you are trying to cook a script in order to attract the attention of the stakeholders… More hours would be spent at the centre and no one bothered leaving the premises soon because of the exchange of ideas among the members.
KUJITEGEMEA is a development group within the Community whose members have decided to come and talk about the poultry project they have and which can be helpful to many refugee families. They encouraged women to join their group.
The KUJITEGEMEA members gave details about the self relience they have been enjoying by keeping this poultry. The poultry could produce sweet chickens that do not present any harm to the human health because they are not injected chemicals or they are not scientifically developed. Only the food they eat make them able to grow faster and ready to eat. The project also has many other activities like a saving group called AVEC, and a tailoring programme.
The CRCU hosted a visitor from UNHCR who came to the meeting to ensure about what is said about the Congolese Refugee Community in Uganda (CRCU). The Senior Protection Officer said that a lot has been said about the community and he wanted to come over in order to see and hear by himself. The elections of the community leader might have created opposition within the community since some candidates who failed did not accept their fate and might be the ones who spread the rumors. He said that he was a refugee in Guinea when his country Liberia spent 15 years of unrest due to the war. He did not seek for resettlement but he was rather repatriated back to home country where he went to complete his studies. Many of his friends were resettled to Australia and Canada but some of them would prefer being in a position where he is today instead of living in resettlement countries. He mentioned that to emphasize that resettlement is not the best solution to a refugee problems. He encouraged members of the community to also think about returning to home country because UNHCR is not always alone to decide about the resettlement of refugees hence repatriation of refugees is their priority. One thing is sure that UNHCR cannot solve all the problems of refugees. There is still need of helping one another. He said that he came to see what is being done in the community. He added that the policy in Uganda states that urban refugees should be self-reliant and showed that the policy stopped UNHCR and other NGOs to extend enough help to urban refugees even though the refugees in the camps are not also well off. The same policy made the Government to stop that grant of refugee status in urban areas alleging that all the refugees must go to the settlement camps.
However therefore, he added that Uganda is still best to refugees because in other countries refugees are not allowed to stay in urban areas yet in Uganda it is possible. He encouraged members to work hard in order to support one another and don’t wait for resettlement. He encouraged people to study in the meantime because when jobs come they would take those who are educated.
The Protection officer promised to support the Congolese School for Congolese children to attend so that they do not lose the language and the schedules when they would go back to home country. He added that they supported the Ugandan schools because they wanted refugee children to feel integrated in the host community. If they supported Ugandan schools why not supporting Congolese schools also. He also promised to start directing donors and visitors to the community so that they can also appreciate the members’ initiatives. After visiting the school he went to visit the Emmanuel Health Centre which is also another initiative found within the Community.
The abrupt visit of the Senior Protection officer was so encouraging for the CRCU.
One member was very grateful towards the community as she testified to have received a meaningful service on referral by the CRCU to a hospital where she received medical treatment for her right eye that was no longer seeing. The operation she went through was worth 1.4 million Shs she failed to raise but via the community she received the treatment. Sometime back she was left at the gate of a hospital by an ambulance from one stakeholder which did not even mind her transport back to Entebbe where she dwells. The treatment was not provided and more than that she was left abandoned far from her home. She felt discouraged but the CRCU has raised her hope again. Unity-Love-Work is our motto, no one should be left behind.
Two departments were deeply reshuffled and the new heads were introduced to the community during the meeting. The Gender department and the Health Department were both concerned and new members were promoted to head them for the betterment of the services. The Social and Economic affairs informed the public about the National Planning Authority which is aiming at knowing the real problems that refugees face in their daily life. A team will be sent to the community to conduct a survey and collect data. The government of Uganda through this plan has a goal of reducing the Congolese refugee problems through their community. The head of the Legal Department reminded the people for whom the grant of refugee status was delayed and who had not brought their documents to rush because this coming Friday might be the deadline. The president of the elder council called the members to the discipline and the President of the CRCU emphasized the change of the mentality and the collaboration between the CRCU and the partner organizations like UNHCR and OPM.
The new staffs who will head the Gender Department are here introduced by the President of the CRCU.
The new staffs who will head the Health Department are also here introduced by the President of the CRCU.