The Tamuka team head to Rwamwanja, Uganda Posted September 15, 2016 by Dougie Mwangi

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In late July, the Tamuka team travelled from Kampala to the Rwamwanja settlement in Southwestern Uganda for a few days to continue to build partnerships in the camp and do further research for upcoming initiatives. Home to mostly Congolese and Rwandese refugees, the camp was reopened in 2012 to accommodate for the large influx of refugees coming from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and now hosts nearly 70,000 people. This visit is part of a new phase of our work in which we hope to go beyond urban areas to work with refugees in rural settlements.The purpose of the trip was first and foremost for the whole team to meet the community groups we have been working with so far and to follow up on the ICT training that had taken place the previous month. It was also an important opportunity for us to network with partners and organisations and inform them about Xavier Project’s work and our future plans in the settlement.

The purpose of the trip was first and foremost for the whole team to meet the community groups we have been working with so far and to follow up on the ICT training that had taken place the previous month. It was also an important opportunity for us to network with partners and organisations and inform them about Xavier Project’s work and our future plans in the settlement.

The Ugandan Office of the Prime Minister’s Department for Refugees (OPM) runs the camp so it was particularly important to build relationships with them. The refugee communities’ relationship with the officials is currently restricted because of language barriers and a level of fear exists towards them  – they are seen as VIPs. We worked to bridge some of these gaps so as to establish better working relationships for the future.

Our work in Rwamwanja will be built around a partnership with Tomorrow Youth, a community-led organisation based in Rwamwanja. They will be our key implementing partners in the settlement. We have been working on capacity-building activities  with them since 2014 and are now at a point to take this further. We spent time meeting and discussing next steps with them. Our main aim is to have functional adult literacy courses available in all 11 zones of the camp. English is very limited in the camps which is impacting the refugees ability to access health, educational and protection services. To point that people are unable to communicate with their doctors about basic health concerns.

Another issue is the scale of the camp. It is 23 kilometres (2-3 hours of walking) from the certain zones to the main office where all the main services are. Services are needed in all zones and this will be one of our priorities as we train Tomorrow Youth trainers to roll out the English course in all the zones.

We are also reviewing the educational facilities for primary and secondary education. In some cases there are Primary One classes with 500 pupils in them and in the last year of secondary school only 15. We are reviewing how we can support this journey to ensure that all children are receiving a full formal education. Our main objectives around this will be paying stipends for teachers and providing school equipment.