By Dorah Ntunga/Oxfam Uganda
28 year Achiro Alice is a mother of 5 children- three of her own, 2 adopted from her late sister and currently expecting her 6th child. . She lost her husband in the recent fighting and now has to take care of these children, the eldest being 7years!
When I approached her shelter in Bidibidi settlement, she radiates with warmth and a kindness that is rare given the grim reality of the day-to-day struggles she has to grapple with. He children are not so different from her; they appear with jolly smiles curling around their heavily pregnant mother. One of them attempted to perch on her mother’s stretched out legs but she lovingly asks all of them to go play, she explained that her legs are so swollen and she finds it so hard to sleep at night.
She serves us some cold water and then leaning her back against the wall, she starts narrating her ordeal. She saw her husband being killed at a distance; she still gets nightmares of this sight. With the help of her neighbor, they fled to the bushes where they stayed and moved in the nights. She had no time to remember she was expecting, all that mattered was the safety of her children. “When I reached the Ugandan boarder, I was in so much pain, I could barely move on I, thought I was going to give birth from there. It is really hard especially since am about to give birth but I have to be stronger than I ever thought I could be. I dint have time to pick anything from my house so my unborn child will have no where to begin from if I don’t think hard. I thought of using the few dollars I came with to buy some warm cloths but I thought twice about that. I instead bought some grains for sell using the money with a hope that I can earn a little more – this way I can buy some cloths for the children too.”
She hopes she can get money to start a small business, grow some food to supplement her children’s diet but these are just plans at the moment, she has no money, no tools or seeds. “At the moment I am looking forward to my child and I want to a name that brings hope, do you have any suggestions?” she asks
To date, Oxfam in Uganda and a local partner Community Empowerment for Rural Development (CEFORD) have supported 85,475 South Sudanese refugees and members of Ugandan host communities by providing clean water for drinking and house hold needs, improving sanitation facilities, and promoting good hygiene to prevent disease outbreaks like cholera.
Oxfam in Uganda is also distributing energy-saving stoves and providing short-term jobs in a Cash-for-Work programme to enable refugees earn some income to meet their basic needs. This intervention is however reaching only refugees that were in Uganda since 2013 and before July 2016. Oxfam is currently scaling up its response to meet the needs of the new arrivals like Achiro Alice and many others.