A REFUGEE MAN PLEADS WITH CRS: "I JUST NEED POLES FOR CONSTRUCTING A HOUSE FOR MY FAMILY"

Emmanuel Alex, a 26 years old man married to Wivine Anifa aged 24 years old mother. The two got married in the year of 2013 when they were still 18 years and 16 years old respectively. They have been living together since they got married and currently, they hav four children. They reside in the village of Kyebitaka, block 81 together with their 6 children.

In 2012, Emmanuel Alex had just arrived in the settlement of Kyangwali to seek refuge from his home country, Democratic Republic Of Congo (DRC) and was then residing at the reception center as he waited for registration to obtain the refugee status. He waited for 6 months so that he can be registered and have a status of being a refugee in the resettlement of kyangwali. Alex says it took him almost everything he had, especially time so he could be successfully registered as a refugee.

In this same year, he was transferred to the village of kyebitaka in block 81 in the deep ends of the village where he was given land which measured about 3 acres for his residence and farming . He built a small grass thatched house in the middle of the land where he stayed for months and later married a 16-year-old girl who lived with him and was ready to bear children for him. Alex was 18 years old by then and the only job he could do was farming; he started farming after he married Anifa. They started earning a living even though farming is a seasonal activity. From Alex’s perception, he thought of progressing and changing his way of living through farming since he was given enough land and was able to farm and change his life together with the help of the wife.

In the year 2013, Alex and Anifa had already had a first born. Meanwhile, it was very hard for them to make good shopping for the newborn baby like other young born babies in the community as others are treated by their parents at an early age young stage after birth. They thought the world had overturned on them since they were doing the same activities as others were doing in the communities but things were not coming out like they expected at the end of the season. They tried to consult the fellow farmers who seemed to be observing progress on how to manage the produce they were harvesting; perhaps this would help out and they would obtain some progress out of the farming they were doing. According to Alex, he was advised to join saving groups which would save UGX 10,000/= ( About $3.50 USD) per week and would be given back based on the position of the shares, a system known as “Likilemba” or “Kibina”. Alex joined the saving group and saved for about 6 months. He said later on, he couldn’t wait until he could be given his money according to his position because he would always be given among the last dividend receivers and so he asked to be given his shares so he could quit the savings since he needed money urgently by then. He used some of the money and solved the problems he was having and the rest of the money helped in his farming activities. He said that he had been growing maize for the last three years until they gave birth to the third child in 2017. Later on, he started growing some beans so as to add on the revenue from the crop field.

In 2018, his land was divided and a portion was given to new refugee arrivals thereby reducing the Land and he was left with only one acre. He describes his family living standards deteriorated to the extent that they started failing to get what to eat sometimes more especially during the growing season. This added more of the suffering they were experiencing than before and it extended through 2019 when they had already gotten another pregnancy for the fourth baby. In this same year 2019, they gave birth to a newborn baby and they became a family of 6 people and this added more suffering in the family.

Later on, Alex started visiting organizations such as HIJRA Uganda seeking support whenever he was not able to support his family. He said the only thing he wanted from the organizations was to be supported with the poles to build a better house for his family but later was referred to Catholic Relief Services (CRS) because it is the organization that handled the issues of construction for the beneficiaries in the camp but he was later not supported for the reason that he did not know. Alex kept waiting at the office where he was referred until they sent him home and had to come back the next day; but they did not help out and finally he gave up because this had happened several times. He thought they couldn’t help him and maybe his case had already been closed. Alex said that he has been running through very many organizations but he has never been helped. He has been living in a small grass thatched house of length 2 by 2 which he built in the first place for himself when he was single eight (8) years ago. Now with a family of six, it is time he upgrades his house so it accommodates his six children. He wishes to be supported with poles to build a new sustainable house for his family.

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