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    CARE International in Uganda reaches out to the most vulnerable in the emergency response following the recent influx of thousands of South Sudanese Refugees into northern Uganda. 


    CARE provides shelters; each built with a latrine and refuse-pit, to persons with special needs living in the Rhino Refugee Settlement. An integrated approach ensures that CARE targets primarily women heads of households, single mothers, separated children the elderly, and the disabled. The onset of the emergency in December 2013 was marked by waves of new arrivals of South Sudanese Refugees into the Rhino Refugee Settlement in the West Nile region of Uganda. Many refugees slept under trees while others were seen erecting makeshift shelters using old fabric materials and sticks. CARE gears its emergency response towards improving the living conditions of those most vulnerable, particularly women and children refugees who make the majority of the population found in clusters within the settlement


    Steven Gai is 27 years old and lived in Juba, South Sudan when he had to flee the fighting that erupted in the city in late 2013. After a transit in Adjumani, in the West Nile region of Uganda, he finally reached the Ocea Refugee Reception Centre in Arua district, where he found himself alone, having left his relatives in South Sudan.



    Steven used makeshift crutches, before receiving a wheelchair in 2005 while being a refugee in eastern Kenya. He has been using the same chair ever since. 

     

    Today, Steven lives in his shelter home provided by CARE, situated near the office where he volunteers. Now he can better access the services available in the refugee settlement. His new role as a Hygiene Promoter allows him to develop new relationships and be a more effective community leader. Steven says, 

    “CARE provided me with a newly built shelter, repaired my wheelchair, and trained me to be a Hygiene Promoter. I am recognized as being one of the leaders of the refugee community because I help people.”

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  • 06/09/14--08:57: Strengthening Women's Voice
  • Outlines the major findings of the Great Lakes Advocacy Initiative in Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and the DRC from 2009 to 2013. GLAI aimed to contribute to the increased protection of women and girls against GBV in the Great Lakes region.

    Published Date: 
    Monday, June 9, 2014

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  • 08/19/14--07:05: To Be Well At Heart
  • A CARE-authored article in the War and Trauma foundation that deals with the impacts of conflict on women's well-being and how working with affected women to define program goals and well-being improves program success.

    Published Date: 
    Tuesday, August 19, 2014

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  • 09/05/14--08:58: A Goat Can Make You Happy
  • We asked women what changes they wanted to see in their lives.  Their answers might surprise you.
    Reading through the pile of documents at work today, I ran across a remarkable truth—a goat can make you happy.  Sounds strange, but it turns out to be true.  How do I know?  A woman in Burundi told me so.

    "What makes me feel well in my heart? My goat. . . Every morning when I wake up the first thing that I see is my goat, tied up to the tree. Then I smile. I bought that goat with my savings in the solidarity group. Someone could come and kill that goat. Someone could steal her. But it would not matter. I could get another goat, because I bought the goat myself, with my savings. And now I have the power to solve my problems and take care of my daughter. I never have to be afraid again!" (Minani[1])

    Just reading that reminds me why I do my job.  Sometimes it seems like I spend a lot of time in meetings and on airplanes for tiny changes out in the world.  Some days it feels like nothing at all is getting better.  Between Ebola and the crisis in Sudan, it’s easy to think that the international development enterprise is entirely doomed. But Minani reminded me that small changes matter; they become big changes. A goat can make you happy.  A goat can change the world.

    Minani’s story encapsulates so much about the basic foundations of life and happiness for all of us—whether you live in an apartment in DC or a hut in Burundi.  For Minani, her goat represents self-sufficiency, success, resilience, safety, and the ability to help other people.  A goat can help her solve her problems, and protect herself and her family.  It proves that she can do anything.

    This quote is part of a CARE’s new study To Be Well at Heart about what it means to truly support women’s well-being.  We asked women in Burundi, Nepal, and Uganda what they needed in their conflict-affected lives.  CARE wanted to get a sense of how our projects could best support them.  Their answers help us to design and measure programs to create changes that work for everyone. For Minani, this was getting the skills and support she needed to save money and buy a goat. Other women pointed to other issues that mattered to them, including:

    • Land ownership / independent income
    • Being able to help others
    • Access to groups and support networks
    • Peace and security
    • Quality education

    Everything on that list is something that I want for myself and my family.  Nothing on there is objectionable.  But it might not be the list we would come up with if we didn’t ask women what they wanted. I would not have thought that a goat would be the first thing a woman would list when she wanted to be happy. Listening to Minani and others like her means that we’ll do a better job making long term change that matters.

    CARE Gift Catalog

    Men Working to Stop Violence image 2
    About the Author:
    Emily Janoch is the Knowledge and Learning Advisor for CARE USA's Gender and Empowerment team.  She has 9 years experience in international development, focusing on how to work with communities to get solutions that work for them.  She has a Masters' in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School.

     

    [1] Name changed to protect her privacy
     
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    Zainabu T. Chiponde (husband green shirt) and his wife Dadi X. Gongoro are pictured holding two small goats. The family lives in the Village of Nanyati, in the District of Mtware, in Tanzania.
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    The theme for this year’s World Food Day is ‘family farming’ but there’s not a lot to celebrate in South Sudan where the specter of famine looms large. CARE’s Senior Advisor on Emergency Food and Nutrition Security Justus Liku explains.



    Family farms – managed by a family, and reliant on their labor - are an important part of rural development. In countries like South Sudan, they play a critical role in providing food security and livelihoods, managing natural resources, and building civil society through farmer organizations.


    But 2014 hasn’t been a good year for family farming here. The conflict that began in South Sudan in December 2013 has disrupted every layer of life of this young nation. According to the UN, 1.4 million South Sudanese have been displaced, and almost half a million people have sought refuge in neighboring countries. The UN is currently hosting more than 99,000 South Sudanese in Protection of Civilian sites at its bases around the country. Many families have been destroyed, their meager farms left barren.


    South Sudan should not be food insecure. The country is blessed with vast tracts of arable land, an enviable water source in the Nile river, a perfect climate for growing a wide range of crops, and the human resources to tend them. Prior to the current crisis, more than 90 percent of the country’s estimated 10 million people earned their living from agriculture, mainly through smallholder, family owned farms producing staple crops like sorghum, and by herding cattle.


    But not now….


    The specter of famine is looming large over South Sudan today. Recent figures from the Integrated Phase Classification (IPC), the key tool for monitoring the status of the food crisis in South Sudan, estimate around 1.5 million people are living in food crisis (Phase 3) and food emergency (Phase 4). The outlook for 2015 remains bleak, particularly with the expectation of renewed fighting in the coming dry season.


    In some parts of South Sudan, family farming has continued through the crisis. The tropical climate of the green belt in the country’s south, along the border with Uganda, produces fruit, vegetables, and cereals, mainly in smallholder farms owned and run by families. But these farmers can no longer access many of their traditional markets inside the conflict affected areas of the country. Fighting has closed the roads that carried goods, destroyed towns that hosted once vibrant local markets, and displaced the people for whom the markets represented a source of both food and livelihoods.


    Food prices have skyrocketed in conflict affected states such as Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei, where imports from neighboring countries like Kenya, Ethiopia and Sudan are substituting produce traditionally grown by South Sudanese farming families. The result is an increasing dependency on imports that, if sustained, will further diminish family farms in South Sudan.

    World Food Day is an important date for farming communities across the globe – but not in South Sudan. Without its farmers, markets and transport infrastructure, this country remains perilously close to famine.

    About CARE in South Sudan:


    Since the outbreak of violence, CARE has provided assistance to more than 300,000 people across South Sudan’s three hardest-hit states of Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei. CARE is providing seeds and tools, as well as assistance in nutrition, emergency water, sanitation, hygiene services, peace building and gender based violence.


    CARE has been operating in Southern Sudan since 1993, initially providing humanitarian relief to internally displaced people in Western Equatoria. The signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005 allowed CARE to expand into Jonglei and Upper Nile states to support returnees from the refugee camps, and the organization has since broadened its operations to include development programs.

    Written by Mr. Justus Liku, CARE’s Senior Advisor for Emergency Food and Nutrition Security

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    Namunyana Mwajuma, a 17 year-old student from Uganda, has participated in CARE programs that helped her family through difficult times and ultimately put her back in school. After her father mysteriously disappeared in 2013, Namunyana’s family suffered greatly. She dropped out of school because her mother could no longer afford school fees. Luckily, her mother joined CARE’s micro-savings program called Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLA). The community-based program taught her mother about financial literacy and how to save and invest her money into small business ventures. Her mother used the profits from her businesses to send Namunyana back to school.

     

    Namunyana was selected as the first Student Ambassador for The Girl Project, a collaboration led by Glamour Magazine to promote education for girls around the world. There are 50 million girls worldwide who are denied the right to an education. Namunyana visited Washington, DC, and CARE had the opportunity to learn more about her journey to fulfilling her education. 

     
    CARE: How did CARE’s VSLA program help your family?

    NM: VSLA has helped me go back to school. After my father disappeared, we, as a family, suffered and I dropped out of school. My mother did not give up on me, and she looked for ways to get me back to school. She joined VSLA and learned how to save and invest money. She used the money to harvest and sell produce and send me to school. The savings enabled my mom to pay the school fees, buy clothes and sanitary pads for school, and we built a new house for my family. She also learned how to set up a vegetable garden and harvest so that the quality is better. We have a more nutritious diet at home now.

     
    CARE: Did the VSLA change your mother’s confidence level? How did it impact you?

    NM: My mom became happy because she participated in meetings and made friends. She became a leader because she was a key keeper [for the money box].She helps other people with their problems because she is considered a village elder now.  When my mom joined the VSLA group, I became happy too because I went back to school and my friends admired me because they had to drop out of school and could not go back.

     
    CARE: What is your community like? Do a lot of girls go to school?

    NM: Some girls are in school, others are not. Some are not in school because they conceived children, because they don’t have sanitary pads, the distance to school is too far, or because it is harvesting season. Boys are the majority in school, the girls stay at home to help with the housework.

     
    CARE: Why is it important for girls to go to school?

    NM: It is good for girls to go to school because they are the leaders of tomorrow. When they go to school, they stay focused and delay pregnancy and early marriage.

     
    CARE: What was it like to have to drop out of school? How is school now?

    NM: I felt so bad when I dropped out, especially when my classmates were promoted to another grade. I was out of school for two years. I became very happy and excited when I went back to school, I gained hope, confidence, and knowledge.

    I like school now because I gain knowledge and life skills. I learned how to play netball and learned about abstaining from unprotected sex. I learned how to be focused, and I got the confidence to talk in public. My favorite subject is geography because I am doing very well in this subject, I got a distinction.

    CARE: What do you want to be when you grow up?

    NM: I want to be a nurse because I want to support my mom, and I want to be the first line of support for the patient.

     
    CARE: How does it feel to be selected as Glamour’s first Student Ambassador for The Girl Project?

    NM: I felt good when I was given the opportunity to come and talk about my life. I felt happy to travel somewhere I never thought I would have the chance to visit.

     
    CARE: What message would you like to share with girls around the world?

    NM: I would tell them to work hard and have a vision for their life, and to always stay focused on achieving that.  I would tell parents to never give up on girls, and I would tell leaders to support girl’s education.

     

     

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    WASHplus is USAID’s flagship global Environmental Health project. Led by FHI 360 in partnership with CARE, WASHplus promotes healthy households and communities by creating and delivering interventions that lead to significant improvements in access, practices, and health outcomes related to water supply, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) and Household Air Pollution (HAP).

    Published Date: 
    Monday, June 22, 2015
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    This 356 page sourcebook is a starting point for thinking and inspiring efforts. The editors hope that as the global community moves forward in 2015 towards agreed Sustainable Development Goals (and in a year designated the International year of Soils), Water- Smart Agriculture can play some role in influencing the implementation of the SDGs and contribute in a small way to ensuring that farmers in East Africa achieve greater productivity, food security, climate resilience and ecosystem sustainability in the face of considerable development challenges.

    Published Date: 
    Thursday, September 10, 2015

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    Three key CARE projects win funding from Gates Foundation

    Posted
    3/8/16

    On International Women’s Day, CARE announces new support to further its work of empowering women and girls and promoting gender equality

    ATLANTA (March 8, 2016) – The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced today that it has awarded CARE three grants as part of Grand Challenges, a family of initiatives fostering innovation to solve global health and development problems, particularly as they support the lives and well-being of women and girls worldwide. Totaling nearly $6 million, the funding will support three CARE projects designed to promote gender equality through programming in areas such as financial inclusion, agriculture and nutrition, and adolescent health and development.

    In Uganda, for example, a funded project features digital “sub-wallets” as a means of bridging a digital divide between women and men. It does so not only by expanding women’s access to digital technology – and mobile banking in particular – but also by promoting greater access and control of their own finances, as well as helping families make sound financial decisions for their own future.  And that can be transformative for a whole household’s future.

    “The digital sub-wallets effort will help close a gender gap within the household,” said Lauren Hendricks, who heads up CARE’s financial inclusion program called Access Africa. “Women often are responsible for managing family finances in terms of paying bills and meeting basic needs, yet they often lack an equitable voice at their family’s financial decision-making table. Digital sub-wallets are one tool to help connect that disconnect.”

    Other CARE programs benefiting from Grand Challenges funding include:

    A Win-Win for Gender, Agriculture and Nutrition: Testing a Gender-Transformative Approach from Asia in Africa (Burundi)

    Targeting the agricultural sector, this four-year research program will test an innovative approach to gender equality by countering gender discrimination through community dialogue and action. One goal is – by promoting gender equality – to enhance economic well-being and food and nutrition security among women farmers. 

    Umodzi: Men, Women, Boys and Girls in Alliance to Achieve Gender Equality (Malawi)

    Integrated into existing life skills and sexuality education curriculum, Umodzi will target an equal number of boys and girls in grades six through eight, seeking over a two-year period to establish gender-equitable attitudes and behaviors among them, to improve health knowledge and self-care practices and to enhance inter-generational relationships between men and boys and women and girls.

    “I am so pleased to have this opportunity to learn what works in order to transform not just the lives of women and girls, but the structures, habits and norms that perpetuate gender inequality for future generations,” said Doris Bartel, senior director for CARE’s Gender and Empowerment unit. “We are lucky to have impressive research and implementation partners on the ground in each of these three countries. Working together, I am convinced we can leverage incredible social change.”

    About CARE       

    Founded in 1945 with the creation of the CARE Package®, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. CARE places special focus on working alongside women and girls because, equipped with the proper resources, they have the power to lift whole families and entire communities out of poverty. Our seven decades of experience show that when you empower a girl or woman, she becomes a catalyst, creating ripples of positive change that lift up everyone around her. That’s why women and girls are at the heart of CARE’s community-based efforts to improve education, health and economic opportunity for everyone. We also work with girls and women to promote social justice, respond to emergencies and confront hunger and climate change. Last year CARE worked in 95 countries and reached more than 65 million people around the world. To learn more, visit www.care.org.

    About the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

    Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people—especially those with the fewest resources—have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Sue Desmond-Hellmann and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.

    About the Grand Challenges Initiative

    Grand Challenges is a family of initiatives fostering innovation to solve key global health and development problems. In 2003, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation launched Grand Challenges in Global Health, which came to include multiple funding partners. This initiative focused on 14 major scientific challenges that, if solved, could lead to key advances in preventing, treating, and curing diseases of the developing world.

    Media Contacts

    Brian Feagans, bfeagans@care.org; 404-979-9453

    Nicole Harris, nharris@care.org, 404-735-0871

    A community group of women and men -- members in a CARE-supported Village Savings and Loan Association -- meet in a village in Burundi, where VSLAs economically empower members to take control of their finances and futures. (Joanna Kaze Nganda/CARE 2014)

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    Uganda: A midwife on a mission

    Posted
    6/19/17

    Mary grabs her notebook and maternal health education booklet and walks towards one of the large tents in the Imvepi refugee reception center that houses dozens of new female refugees arriving in Uganda from the South Sudan border.

    At Imvepi's reception center, new refugees are registered as refugees with the government of Uganda. Here they get health screenings, food, clean water and are assigned a plot of land with materials to build their own temporary shelter. Typically, new refugees stay at the reception center for a few days in large tents split up between males and females. Then they are taken to their assigned land to start rebuilding their lives.

    On average, 2,000 new refugees are registered every day. The majority are from South Sudan, due to a civil war there that has been raging since 2013. Ever since the war spread to the southern part of the country in July 2016, Uganda has seen a massive influx of about 600,000 refugees from South Sudan. Nearly 86 percent of the 900,000 South Sudanese refugees in Uganda are women and children, many of them pregnant women.

    Mary is a midwife working at the refugee reception center with support from CARE. Mary helps identify pregnant refugees who need maternal health services. She enters one of the tents where the new female arrivals are temporarily staying, and it doesn’t take her long to find several pregnant women. She starts telling the women that she has information to share with them about accessing health services for them and their unborn babies. Before long, Mary is surrounded by about 25 breastfeeding and pregnant mothers.

    “How many of you have seen a doctor during your pregnancy?” asks Mary. Only a few hands go up, and Mary proceeds to use her health education booklet to educate the women on the stages of their pregnancies, common medical complications they could be experiencing, why it’s important to get antenatal care and how they can access antenatal services.

    One of the women Mary meets is 21-year-old Esther who is eight months pregnant and has not seen a doctor. She is experiencing abdominal pain and vaginal bleeding after walking through the bush for two weeks to get to Uganda from South Sudan. Esther also appears to be suffering from psychological trauma after being separated from her children and her husband. 

    Mary comforts Esther, while taking down her information to get her to the health clinic as soon as possible. “Esther is in a bad way. The vaginal bleeding she is having tells me she has malaria, which is common. But she is suffering major trauma that needs more than just physical medical care,” Mary says.

    When Mary meets these pregnant women, they have many questions for her. Like 23-year-old Sieda, who has also been experiencing vaginal bleeding due to malaria. “I’m worried because I haven’t felt my baby playing in my womb in a while. I have no relatives with me, so who can help me deliver my baby?” Sieda aks.

    Mary tells Sieda that there is a clinic in the settlement supported by CARE where a professional midwife will help safely deliver her baby. She helps Sieda understand that delivering her baby at the health clinic is the best way to ensure that both she and her new baby are healthy and cared for.

    “Thanks to such programs, despite large numbers of pregnant refugee women arriving daily, maternal and infant mortality rates have thankfully been very low,” Mary says.

    Every day, Mary searches the reception center for new pregnant women who need health services. In the first two weeks of May, she helped get 70 pregnant women into antenatal care. As she finishes answering all the women’s questions and taking down their information, she exits their tent and starts walking towards the next one, saying, “There are so many moms who have been on the move with no antenatal care. We need more health workers to meet all these needs.”

    Mary is a midwife working for CARE at the Imvepi Reception Centre where around 2,000 refugee's enter each day from South Sudan. Mary is responible for about 70 new mothers and their babies every week. CREDIT: Peter Caton/CARE

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    From South Sudan to Uganda: Pregnant Women's Journey

    Posted
    6/19/17

     “One day you are in one place, and then the soldiers come and you have to run to another place. We have been on the run since the war spread to our village last July,” says Mary, a 28-year-old pregnant mother from Central Equatoria in South Sudan. With both worry and relief in her eyes, she sits on the ground of a large tent at Imvepi refugee reception center, surrounded by her children and her belongings.

    Just five days ago, Mary and her children finally made it safely across the border into Uganda and registered with the government as refugees. Now they wait at the reception center with thousands of other refugees to be assigned a plot of land and receive temporary shelter materials so they can try to start a new life in relative safety.

    Mary traveled to Uganda with four other pregnant women from her village, along with their children. They all left their husbands behind in South Sudan because they would not leave their homes. Mary traveled with her two children, and six other children from her village who were orphans or whose parents stayed back to protect their property.

    “We’ve all come with our own children, plus other people’s children, because we want these children to have a chance to live,” Mary says. “I fear how I will continue to care for all these children, but I want to give them the chance of an education.”

    The five pregnant women and their children walked through the bush for 10 days to get to the border. It was safer to move at night, because it was easier to avoid soldiers. At night, they would walk for a couple of hours, then let the children sleep for a couple of hours. The women would take turns sleeping and keeping watch for soldiers. They always rested near a water point to drink and eat some of the food they had packed from their gardens back home.

    “Every time we stopped to rest, we prayed to God that we would reach Uganda alive,” says Awadi, one of the other pregnant women on the journey. “When we finally arrived in Uganda, we were so relieved. Our bodies were in pain from the travel and we were finally safe.”

    “I feel safe now that we’re here, but I worry for the people we left behind,” said Mary. “What pains me the most is that I had to leave my mother behind, because she didn’t have the strength to travel.”

    When in South Sudan, none of the women had seen a doctor during their pregnancies. Now, they sit in a circle around Mary, a midwife supported by CARE, who advises them on how to identify complications in their pregnancies, and where to go for antenatal services in the camp. She will take down all of their information to make sure these women get the maternal healthcare they need as soon as possible.

    “There are so many pregnant women arriving daily at the border in dire conditions, suffering from malnutrition, malaria or anemia. They need healthcare immediately, and my job is to make sure they get to a clinic,” Mary the midwife says.

    The five pregnant women are no exception. When in South Sudan, their only concern was finding food and safety for themselves and their children. Accessing healthcare was not an option, nor a priority compared to basic survival. Now, that they’re in Uganda that will change. One of CARE’s priority interventions in the South Sudanese refugee settlements in Uganda is to ensure access to maternal and reproductive health services to pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.

    “I want to stay in Uganda so I can finally access health services and have a healthy baby,” Margaret says.

     

    Mary walked for 10 days to escape South Sudan for Uganda's refugee camps. In addition to her own two children, she cared for six other children and brought them to safety. CREDIT: Peter Caton/CARE

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    South Sudan Refugee: Suddenly a Single Mom

    Posted
    6/19/17

    It was September 2016 when the war finally spread to Joyce’s village. She watched morning to night as massive groups of people were on the move to Uganda in search of safety. Joyce didn’t want to leave her home and her life, but she grew more and more fearful for her children’s safety and future.

    “When the soldiers started coming into our villages and killing people, we finally had to leave,” Joyce says.

    Her husband stayed behind to protect their home, as she and her three children departed for Uganda. Joyce was terrified to leave her husband behind, but she prayed the entire journey.

    “After we safely reached the border of Uganda, all I could do was thank God,” Joyce says.

    Although relieved to be safe from gunshots, Joyce found herself suddenly with the sole burden of providing for her children. In South Sudan, she had been a stay-at-home mom while her husband had a good job with an aid agency that provided for the family. With the help of CARE, Joyce joined a Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) and started a business making and selling embroidered bed sheets.

    “The market in the settlement is not very active, so the profit is low. But I am thankful for it, because it helps provide us little money for more food,” Joyce says.

    There are 40 members in Joyce’s VSLA who meet weekly to save money as a group. CARE helps launch the groups with start-up funding opportunities and provides business training, but the groups are completely self-managed by the members. Members pool their savings and take loans from the savings pool to invest in small businesses and pay family expenses. The loans are then paid back with interest, which is shared among the members.

    Joyce says the group has become like a family. Most of them are now single moms who all fled to Uganda in September of last year when the war spread to their villages in Central Equatoria state. CARE also provides the group with access to healthcare, family planning services and protection and prevention services for sexual, physical and emotional violence in the community.

    “It’s so traumatizing all that has happened in our country. Our group is like a support system. When we remember our experiences in South Sudan or are struggling to meet needs in Uganda, we help each other,” Joyce says.

    “Our biggest hope now is for our children to have better education and peace in our country. If there’s peace, we will go back home." 

    Joyce, a single mother who fled violence in South Sudan for Uganda, was able to start a business to support her family through the local VSLA. CREDIT: Peter Caton/CARE USA

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    South Sudan to Uganda: Three girls in search of survival and school

    Posted
    6/19/17

    In the heat of the day, Lillian, Scobia and Viola help each other carry large, heavy pieces of wood from a collection point to the temporary shelter they are trying to make into a home at Imvepi refugee settlement in Uganda. They have been sharing a latrine with neighbors with no place to shower, so today, they will build themselves their own bathroom on their land. 

    The girls are 16 years old. They are from the same village in South Sudan and fled to Uganda together, along with Viola’s eight-year-old brother, but with no adult guardian. 

    Viola and her brother were raised by their uncle. One day last fall, he was killed by soldiers on his way home, leaving Viola and her brother alone. They survived for a few months off of the vegetables in their garden, but Viola did not know how to continue cultivating the garden. When they ran out of food, they moved in with Scobia and her grandmother, who were neighbors in their village.

    Lillian had been living with her older sister, after their parents had died. But when her sister got married, she ran off with her husband, leaving Lillian alone. She also moved in with Scobia.

    As the violence in South Sudan worsened, the girls became increasingly worried about their safety. But even more concerning to them was that they were missing out on their education as their school was no longer functioning.

    “I was afraid that if I stayed in South Sudan, we would get killed just like my uncle,” Viola says. “I wanted to come to Uganda to be safe and get an education, so I can one day get a job and continue taking care of my brother.”

    With the help of Scobia’s grandmother, the girls packed food and their belongings, and set off for Uganda on foot. During the journey, they would eat just enough to survive, since they weren’t sure how long they needed the food to last. After walking for seven days, they arrived in Uganda.

    Their sights remain focused on getting back in school. They need clothes, and more food, but most importantly they want to go to school.

    “School will help me overcome the challenges I am facing. If I have an education, I can get a good job and those challenges will disappear,” Lillian says.

    Out of the 1.2 million refugees in Uganda, over 700,000 are children under 18, according to UNHCR. Many of those children arrive in Uganda without a parent or guardian. CARE is assisting these unaccompanied children by helping them construct temporary shelter, providing protection and helping them access psychosocial services through their adult community leaders and CARE’s counselors.

    Sometimes a child finds a guardian on the journey to Uganda, or once they arrive in Uganda. Other times a child finds a group of other children and they become each other’s guardians. This is the case with Lillian, Scobia and Viola.  These girls have become each other’s family.

    “We do everything together. We collect firewood, fetch water and cook together. We also comfort each other when we are sad, or remembering what we have lost in South Sudan. We are sisters,” Viola says.

    “Young girls like these arriving in Uganda alone and fending for themselves are at major risk of violent attacks. They oftentimes arrive already traumatized from violent events that may have occurred on their journey,” says Delphine Pinault, Country Director for CARE Uganda. “With most of the refugees coming from a culture of violence and conflict, it is critical that we work with the entire community, including men and boys, on adopting more caring and supportive behaviors and on resolving conflicts and differences through dialogue rather than the fist.”

    One of CARE’s priority interventions for South Sudanese refugees in Uganda is to prevent physical, sexual and emotional violence, particularly against women and girls, and to facilitate access to services for survivors of violence. CARE also works with men and boys on positive masculinity, or learning to collaborate with women and girls. 

    Lilian, Viola and Scobia have used a shared struggle to form a genuine sisterhood. Fleeing South Sudan after being forced out of school and home for fear of rape and murder, they do everything together now. Photo: Peter Caton/CARE

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    South Sudan Refugees: Fighting the Traumas of War

    Posted
    6/19/17

    One night, 26-year-old Joyce watched in fear as her husband continued to drink and his behavior became increasingly erratic. Ever since they’d fled the war in South Sudan, her husband’s drinking had gotten worse and sometimes led to violent outbursts. As he became more intoxicated, he started yelling and hitting her. Suddenly, he grabbed a machete and threatened to cut her. Terrified, Joyce grabbed their six children and ran to a neighbor’s house.

    The neighbor let Joyce and the children stay the night, but encouraged Joyce to report the incident to CARE who would be able to help. Joyce took the neighbor’s advice and stayed with her children at CARE women’s shelter for several weeks where trained staff provided counseling, food and access to health care for her son who had pneumonia. CARE staff also engaged the local pastor to work with Joyce’s husband on the trauma and issues that were triggering his violent behavior.

    “The South Sudanese people, especially women and girls, are fleeing from violence, but often carry that violence with them because of the trauma they experience in the process. Oftentimes, men experience bouts of hopelessness and low self-esteem after losing everything in South Sudan and engage in negative coping mechanisms like excessive alcohol consumption. This often leads to violent behavior against women and girls, especially in the home, but also in the settlement” says Delphine Pinault, Country Director at CARE Uganda.

    Though primarily exercised by men against women and girls, there are also incidences of women experiencing fits of rage and acting out violently, often fueled by alcohol.

    William is a community leader overseeing 500 households in one of the zones of Imvepi settlement, and describes how alcohol is a huge problem in his community and how it perpetuates violence.

    “There’s a woman here who will drink excessively, and then start yelling and fighting physically with the other women,” William says. “I think she’s just so traumatized by what she’s been through in South Sudan, she doesn’t know how to cope.”

    William is going through violence prevention training facilitated by CARE that is teaching him ways to handle situations like this, where to report it and how to change attitudes and behaviors within the community to help resolve issues that lead to violence in general but particularly violence against women and girls.

    “With the alarming levels of trauma amongst refugees fleeing South Sudan, there’s a huge need to not only provide counseling to help them recover, but also work at the community level to change attitudes and behaviors that lead to more violence in the settlements,” Pinault says. 

    One of CARE’s priority interventions for South Sudanese refugees in Uganda is to prevent physical, sexual and emotional violence, particularly against women and girls, and to facilitate access to services for survivors of violence. CARE also works with men and boys on positive masculinity, helping them to learn to collaborate with women and girls and to resolve conflicts and differences through dialogue. To date, CARE has trained over 100 community leaders in violence prevention and 42 refugee Role Model Men have been trained and have reached 4,336 men in Rhino Settlement. 

    William is a community leader at Imvepi refugee settlement in Uganda. As a leader for over 500 households, he is being trained to mitigate the domestic violence that often results from the psychological stress of being a refugee. Peter Caton/CARE

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    CARE Announces Letter-Writing, Social Media Campaign in Support of Refugees around the World

    Posted
    6/20/17

    Letters of Hope initiative connects American youth with refugee children, invites others to express solidarity using #LettersOfHope

    ATLANTA (June 20, 2017) — To mark World Refugee Day, the global poverty-fighting organization CARE today announced its Letters of Hope campaign, which connects American youth with young refugees around the world and invites the public to share expressions of solidarity using #LettersOfHope. The campaign comes as the UN announces that the number of refugees worldwide has swelled to another record: 65.6 million.

    Through the Letters of Hope campaign: fifth-graders in Boulder, Colo., exchanged letters with children in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp; Stanford University students wrote Syrian refugees in Jordan; middle school students in New York City sent letters to Afghan refugees in Greece and displaced families in Yemen; and fourth-graders outside Atlanta traded letters with South Sudanese refugees in Uganda. Now CARE is asking individuals of all ages to show their support for refugees by sharing their expressions of hope and solidarity through their favorite social media channels using #LettersOfHope.

    “In providing lifesaving food, water and shelter around the world, CARE staff often see another tremendous need: Refugees want to know if the rest of world sees their struggle and cares about their fate,” said Michelle Nunn, CARE president and CEO. “Amid increasing anti-refugee rhetoric and fewer open doors for displaced people, a simple message of solidarity and hope can boost the spirits of people living in limbo — giving them real hope.”

    In one exchange between grade-schoolers in Boulder and Dadaab, several students used personal drawings in their letters. From her Dadaab school, Safiyo drew a beautiful blue-and-pink flower and wrote: “One day we will meet and I will draw a flower on your hands and legs. This is the flower I will draw on you.” CARE converted her artwork into temporary tattoos that the kids in Boulder affixed to their arms and legs. Two weeks later, Safiyo smiled with pride as she flipped through photos of these children, from thousands of miles away, with her flower all over them. One of the Boulder students even responded with his own drawing — of a giant yellow sun — at the end of his letter. “Everyone sees the sun,” he wrote underneath. “The sun brings us all together.”

    Letters of Hope stems from a similar CARE letter-writing initiative in 2016 called Special Delivery, in which original CARE Package recipients in America — themselves former child refugees after WWII — wrote to Syrian refugee children. Though separated by seven decades and thousands of miles, the connections between child refugees of yesterday and those of today inspired people around the world to send their own heartfelt messages.

    When CARE launched its original Letters of Hope campaign last year, requests to write letters poured in from schools and children. “Now we’re channeling that energy to raise the world’s collective voice in support of refugees,” Nunn said. Learn more at care.org/lettersofhope.

     

    About CARE       

    Founded in 1945 with the creation of the CARE Package®, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. CARE places special focus on working alongside women and girls because, equipped with the proper resources, they have the power to lift whole families and entire communities out of poverty. That’s why women and girls are at the heart of CARE’s community-based efforts to improve education and health, create economic opportunity, respond to emergencies and confront hunger. Last year CARE worked in 94 countries and reached 80 million people around the world. Learn more at care.org.

     

    Media Contacts

    Brian Feagans, bfeagans@care.org; 404-979-9453

    Nicole Harris, nharris@care.org, 404-735-0871

     

    Forced from her home in Somalia in 2010, 11-year-old Safiyo lives with her family in Kenya's Dadaab refugee camp, one of the largest refugee camps in the world. On World Refugee Day, June 20, the UN announced a record number of displaced people worldwide: 65.6 million. CARE works with families in Dadaab and refugees in other parts of the world to deliver clean water, food, health care, critical financial assistance and other support. Carey Wagner/CARE 
     

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    A day in the life of a CARE midwife in Uganda

    Posted
    7/18/17

    Uganda hosts one of the largest refugee populations in the world. Of the 1.2 million refugees in Uganda, 900,000 are South Sudanese. At the height of the current Global Refugee Crisis, 3,000-7,000 South Sudanese were arriving daily. Currently, the settlement receives about 2,000 people daily. Imvepi refugee settlement hosts more than 110,000 refugees; almost three times the number of locals in the subcounty of Odupi. Eighty-six percent of the South Sudanese refugees in Uganda are women and children in real danger of sexual and physical violence. Many of them have reported incidents of violence on their brutal journeys. CARE has established five centers in Imvepi where refugee women and girls can seek assistance and sexual violence survivors can be provided with psychosocial support and health services.

    Mary Maturu is a midwife working in one of CARE’s women centers in Uganda. Here she offers insight into what it’s like to be a midwife in one of the world’s largest refugee settlements.

    6:00 a.m. My day starts early in the morning. After I get ready, I prepare food for my son. He is 3 years old and my sister takes care of him when I am at work. I quickly go over my notes I prepared the previous evening of things I am going to speak about with the women I meet for the day. The topics can range from reproductive health and gender-based violence to antenatal care. After breakfast, I walk 30 minutes to the women’s center in Imvepi camp.

    8:00 a.m. I arrive at the women’s center in Imvepi and organize and map out the day. I usually discuss plans with one of CARE’s community volunteers, Faiza, who works with me. Having fled South Sudan, Faiza has a great outreach to the refugee communities here and often suggests topics we could cover. I ready my consultation desk, where I screen and diagnose patients and refer serious medical cases to health clinics. I also advise pregnant mothers on antenatal care and check for any pre-natal complications. Our center is very close to the main reception center in Imvepi, where new arrivals wait to be registered. We often go over to identify pregnant refugees who need maternal health services. Usually when we enter the tents where new female arrivals stay temporarily, it doesn’t take very long to find several pregnant women. We start informing them about accessing health services for themselves and their unborn babies. I often use my health education booklet to teach women about the stages of their pregnancies, common medical complications they could be experiencing, why it’s important to get antenatal care and how they can access antenatal services. Before long, I am often surrounded by 20-30 breastfeeding and pregnant mothers.

    9:00 a.m. For many women, the center is too far from their homes. Imvepi is vast – it covers an area of some 150 square kilometers (60 square miles). So I usually head out to the communities for home visits. We cover different topics on different days. A few weeks ago we touched on the topic of family planning. Most of the women who arrive in Imvepi are deeply traumatized, as they’ve lost family members. We highlighted the importance of family planning, especially since we have seen quite a number of unwanted pregnancies in the settlement. Other times, we talked about maternal health to severely malnourished mothers or those who are HIV positive. Topics such as sexual and gender-based violence are also of high relevance, sadly. It is a reoccurring problem in many families. I mostly hear of cases where food shortages lead to physical violence. Many families decide to sell the food rations they receive from aid agencies, ending up with little to no food left for themselves and extreme tensions at home. Some men also exchange food for alcohol, further fueling violence at home. I screen such women to see if they are in need of immediate help or referrals.

    2:00 p.m. It’s time for me to go back to the women’s center. Between morning and early afternoon, I try to see as many women as possible at their homes. Sometimes I end up speaking to them for long periods and skip lunch to answer all questions. Many women tell me it is better to teach them how to fish rather than give them food assistance. This is what we try to do at the women’s center as well. We educate and train them so they can start something themselves, such as small-scale farming or other small businesses, and become independent again.

    I spend the rest of the afternoon in the center to see more women who come to seek assistance. Some of the mothers come to see me because they are unable to build up their tents by themselves. CARE has helped more than 2,500 refugees to build their new homes in Imvepi. Usually in a day I see around 80-100 people, many of them are pregnant mothers. I make sure to highlight the importance of hospital deliveries, as most of them have never seen a doctor before. But it is challenging. The refugee mothers often live very far away from a health clinic and have no means to get there. The hospitals themselves are also overwhelmed. They lack equipment and space. Patients are often forced to share the limited hospital supplies.

    5:00 p.m. By 5 p.m. I usually wrap up for the day and start walking home before it gets dark. The walk gives me time to reflect and revisit some of the things people have told me. Some of the stories are heartbreaking, especially those of unaccompanied children who are left alone with no supervision or care. I pick my son up at my sister’s place and give him a hug, thankful for what I have. We have dinner and I put him to sleep before I start preparing for the next day.

    11:00 p.m. I get ready for bed to get some sleep before my daily routine begins again. I feel blessed because I have a job in which I can contribute to making people’s lives better. I like speaking to those who need help and share their stories. I have always wanted to become a midwife and although there is always more to do than I can manage in Imvepi, I know that I make a difference in the lives of hundreds of mothers here. 

    Mary Maturu is a midwife in a refugee camp with more than 110,000 refugees, of which 86 percent are women and children. Credit: Jennifer Bose/CARE 

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    This is what happens when the world turns its back

    Posted
    7/26/17

    The United Nations says it threatens to be the worst humanitarian crisis since 1945 but chances are you haven’t heard much about it. About 20 million people are at risk of starvation across four countries, mostly in Africa. But whether because of the Trump media juggernaut, the machinations of Brexit or simply ‘compassion fatigue’, this catastrophe is not getting the attention it deserves nor the donations required to respond adequately.

    I have just returned from South Sudan, the epicentre of the food crisis and where famine was declared earlier this year. Half the country’s population of 6 million are now dependent on food aid to survive, with many now subsisting on foraged wild food such as water lily roots. It can be just enough to sustain an adult but often indigestible for children, meaning they suffer the most.

    At a hospital in Unity State, where CARE is providing emergency nutrition treatment, I met six-month-old Josephine*. Sitting in her mother’s lap, the bones of her ribcage were clearly visible, protruding from her chest; her arms no wider than a 20 cent piece. Despite her condition, Josephine greeted us with a beaming smile, showing off her new bottom teeth. But it was clear that without urgent treatment she would die. Josephine was suffering diarrhoea and vomiting. And her mother, facing food shortages herself, had been struggling to breastfeed.

    “Usually they could use cow milk instead,” the doctor told me. “But when the fighting happened, their cattle were taken. So the children don’t get milk and the mothers don’t have money for supplements.”

    In situations like this aid agencies can make an enormous difference. With a supply of a special, nutrient-rich peanut paste, in just weeks a severely malnourished child like Josephine can rapidly gain weight and fight off disease. And the paste costs just a few dollars. Not much to save a child’s life.

    The UN has said it requires $6.3 billion to avert a humanitarian catastrophe in the countries hardest hit: South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen. But so far the appeal has faltered, with less than half the target funded. The gap means shortages of essential aid like emergency food, drinking water and medicine.

    Often we wrongly assume major food crises like these are due to the fickle climate. The reality is that disaster on this scale is invariably due to a human cause: conflict. The only long term solution is peace. And regardless, none of it is the fault of children like Josephine.

    South Sudan, which marked its sixth anniversary of independence last week (July 9), has been plagued by violence for much of its short history. It has resulted in a siege-like situation for innocent civilians. Trapped between front lines, it can be both too dangerous for people to flee and for aid to reach them. Fields lie empty due to the violence. People aren’t able to plant crops because they simply don’t know where they will be living when it is time to harvest or if it will be safe to do so. Seed stocks have been looted. And countless farmers have been forced from their land.

    Meanwhile, an economic crisis has caused the price of household goods to skyrocket, with hyper-inflation of the South Sudanese Pound now sitting well above 300 per cent. To put this in perspective, a kilo of tomatoes now costs the average worker in South Sudan up to 10 per cent of their monthly salary. In Australian terms, that would be like paying $500 per kilo. Basic staples are out of reach for most.

    So it is not surprising 1.6 million people have fled the country. The biggest refugee exodus in Africa since the 1994 Rwanda genocide. Most families end up in neighbouring Uganda, which as UN chief António Guterres has pointed out, has welcomed refugees with compassion and empathy rather than barriers.

    The Australian Government has so far been generous in its response to this regional food crisis, pledging $68 million in the past year. But when you consider the scale of this disaster, and the logistical challenges, you realise just how much more support will be needed.

    South Sudan has no national power grid, everything from hospitals to offices are powered by generators.  It is a country roughly the size of France yet has only one paved road – a 200km stretch from the capital Juba to the Ugandan border. Most of the country is linked only by dirt tracks which are impassable during the rainy season. This, coupled with insecurity on the roads, means aid often has to be delivered by air which is expensive and time consuming.

    When famine was declared in Somalia in 2011, there was criticism international donors were too slow to react. An estimated 260,000 people starved to death. After that crisis, we said ‘never again’. A sentiment expressed after the 1984 Ethiopian famine and countless other catastrophes since World War Two. After each event, there was an international consensus that such atrocities must be prevented.

    Yet today we are on the cusp of one of the largest global humanitarian crises in living memory. We have an opportunity to stop history from repeating. But first, we need to start paying attention.

    Sam Bolitho, of Canberra, is part of CARE Australia’s emergency response team

    *Names have been changed for the protection of children and their families.

    By
    Sam Bolitho

    How can a crisis this big be overlooked? When we have all the resources we need and then some, how can this child still starve? Credit: Josh Estey/CARE

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    A women's group for refugees in Uganda

    Posted
    10/18/17

    Since violence erupted in South Sudan in 2016, the number of people who have fled to safety in Uganda has exceeded one million.

    Where some countries turn refugees away, the Ugandan Government is welcoming them. CARE’s Refugee Response Team Leader Carly Sheehan is in Uganda and shines a light on how, with support, refugees really can start again.

    The refugee settlements are like nothing I’ve ever seen before.

    When refugees arrive, they are registered, vaccinated, given a hot meal, given the right to work, and allocated a plot of land to settle on - they are even given resources to begin constructing their new home. And the Ugandan Government allows them to stay for as long as they like.

    This does not feel like a refugee camp.

    My team is visiting one settlement to meet with a women’s group that, with CARE’s support, have formed an embroidery business.

    We pull up next to a large white tent, and the women’s group comes pouring out to greet us. They are dressed in matching T-shirts, and sing us a song of welcome they have written especially for us: ‘Our visitors from CARE, we’re happy to receive you, today’s a wonderful day, we’re happy to receive you!’

    They lead us, still singing, into the tent and we sit on plastic chairs covered with pieces of cloth, which they have embroidered with flowers. We are officially welcomed by Joyce, the chairwoman of the group. Back home in South Sudan she was a government agricultural officer. We ask the other women what they used to do back home: one was studying electrical engineering, one was a soap maker, a teacher, a midwife… the range of skills among these women is astounding.

    Joyce took the initiative to form this group in July, 2016. In the year since, they have met every Tuesday and Saturday without fail.

    “For the first few months we sat together to counsel each other on issues we were facing in our homes and the trauma we had gone through to get here,” explains Joyce. “For a long time, we thought that we could go back to South Sudan. Some of us tried to go back but it was impossible. We were in denial that we would stay here for a long time, but now we are looking to the future.”

    “When we arrived here, we were like children who could only crawl; we needed everything done for us. Over the past year, we have worked together and now we stand upright, with one foot on the ground because of the support CARE has given us. We just need a little bit more support so that we can stand proud with both feet on the ground.”

    The group sells single bed sheets for $8.75, and doubles sell for $10. They are making enough to buy medicine and school supplies for their children. They have formed a savings group which they all contribute to, and loan the money to group members with a small interest rate. They’ve saved about $100 so far, and are hoping that eventually the savings group will be able to fund startup costs for different types of businesses.

    Being in this group has made a huge impact on the way these women live and work together, and is proof that when governments are as accepting as Uganda’s, and when agencies like CARE are able to support women starting over, a brighter future for refugees is indeed possible.  

    When we announce that it is time for us to leave, they break into another song, their harmonies another demonstration of how well the group works together. ‘Together, we’re moving on… to a better day.’

    Joyce is the chairwoman of a women’s group in a refugee settlement in Uganda. CARE / Peter Caton 

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    Escaping Violence in South Sudan, Women's Groups Offer Support

    Posted
    11/3/17

    Since violence erupted in South Sudan in 2016, the number of people who have fled to safety in Uganda has exceeded one million.

    Where some countries turn refugees away, the Ugandan Government is welcoming them. CARE’s Refugee Response Team Leader Carly Sheehan is in Uganda and shines a light on how, with support, refugees really can start again.

    The refugee settlements are like nothing I’ve ever seen before.

    When refugees arrive, they are registered, vaccinated, given a hot meal, given the right to work, and allocated a plot of land to settle on - they are even given resources to begin constructing their new home. And the Ugandan Government allows them to stay for as long as they like.

    This does not feel like a refugee camp.

    My team is visiting one settlement to meet with a women’s group that, with CARE’s support, have formed an embroidery business.

    We pull up next to a large white tent, and the women’s group comes pouring out to greet us. They are dressed in matching T-shirts, and sing us a song of welcome they have written especially for us: ‘Our visitors from CARE, we’re happy to receive you, today’s a wonderful day, we’re happy to receive you!’

    They lead us, still singing, into the tent and we sit on plastic chairs covered with pieces of cloth, which they have embroidered with flowers. We are officially welcomed by Joyce, the chairwoman of the group. Back home in South Sudan, she was a government agricultural officer. We ask the other women what they used to do back home: one was studying electrical engineering, one was a soap maker, a teacher, a midwife… the range of skills among these women is astounding.

    Joyce took the initiative to form this group in July 2016. In the year since they have met every Tuesday and Saturday without fail.

    “For the first few months we sat together to counsel each other on issues we were facing in our homes and the trauma we had gone through to get here,” explains Joyce. “For a long time, we thought that we could go back to South Sudan. Some of us tried to go back but it was impossible. We were in denial that we would stay here for a long time, but now we are looking to the future.”

    “When we arrived here, we were like children who could only crawl; we needed everything done for us. Over the past year, we have worked together and now we stand upright, with one foot on the ground because of the support CARE has given us. We just need a little bit more support so that we can stand proud with both feet on the ground.”

    The group sells single bed sheets for $8.75, and doubles sell for $10. They are making enough to buy medicine and school supplies for their children. They have formed a savings group which they all contribute to, and loan the money to group members with a small interest rate. They’ve saved about $100 so far, and are hoping that eventually, the savings group will be able to fund startup costs for different types of businesses.

    Being in this group has made a huge impact on the way these women live and work together, and is proof that when governments are as accepting as Uganda’s, and when agencies like CARE are able to support women starting over, a brighter future for refugees is indeed possible.  

    When we announce that it is time for us to leave, they break into another song, their harmonies another demonstration of how well the group works together. ‘Together, we’re moving on…to a better day.’

    By
    Carly Sheehan, Refugee Response Team Leader in Uganda

    Joyce is chairman of her community's village savings and loan association (VSLA) that offers both economic support, but community engagement as well. Credit: Peter Caton/CARE

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