Father Andrew Of the Divine Word MIssionaries together with the Servants of the Holy Spirit and few refugee leaders in the YCS club / Association in Yoyo Secondary school after the mass for the handover.
There are approximately 19.5 million refugees in the world today with about 14.4 million under the mandate of the United Nations high commission for refugees most commonly reffered to as the UN Refugee agency or UNHCR, that was created by the UN General Assembly in 1950 with uganda hosting close to 1,293,582 refugees as of 30 June 2019 ,whose major task is to help millions of uprooted people find shelter through the establishment of refugee camps and resettlements and meet their basic needs such as food, clothings among others but also to seek permanent solutions for them as they start their new lives .
Approximately 379km off Kampala-Gulu highway lies Bidibidi resettlement site which happens to be the largest refugee settlment in uganda and Third largest refugee resettlement in the world and the largest in Africa,Located in Yumbe district in the west Nile region of Uganda.
The settlement seats on 250 square kilometers with a population of 227,000 south Sudanese refugees that flee from their country and homes as a result of the political instability and land pressure according to the UNHCR.
Being a large settlement it is filled with 86% of refugees being women and children and further broken down to 60 % of these being children below the age of 18 years and above with approximately 28% being women , with the massive population and fill to capacity , it is divided into zones ranging from zone 1 to zone 5 with a further breakdown into various villages in those very zones for proper management, record keeping and control . In the various zones, education , health , security and so many other services are rendered to the refugees to improve their stay in their new homes and a number of these refugees specifically children under the age of 18years are given foster families to take care of them and ease their survival in this new enviroment not to make them feel deserted at the end of the day .
Being new in the society, a society with various cultures, customs,beliefs and people , there is expected tension and disunity between the hosts or the nationals and the refugees as a whole . Research indcates that refugees relocation from wartorn countries makes them particularly vulnerable to mental health concerns because many have experienced early traumas and face further post traumas after the movement as in the darkness they wait without hope , without light till mercy is shown to them.
however, a couple of steps have been taken to solve these conflicts and provide a long term solution once these refugees are brought into the ressetlement. Bearing in mind that they access practically the same facilities in the community with the nationals such as;
Medical services in the same hospitals ,Going to the same schools , Playing in the same playgrounds or play gazetted areas ,develop the same technical skills in the same schools or vactional institutes which include hair dressing , tailoring and so many more but also go to the same water sources to collect water, solutions had to be put in place at the end of the day.
In Yoyo secondary school , a school in zone 3 in Bidibidi ressetlement, the intergration of religious clubs and associations such as the young catholic students association for the catholics, has been put in place to not only build the spiritual growth of the students instill values but to also help the students deal with their mental health as they get to share with their fellows what they are dealing with , share past experiences, come together as an association to ensure the well being of one another but to also go out to the community and extend a hand through community work and voluntary work such as planting tress, cleaning toilets, sweeping various roads in different villages in their zone to promote togetherness but also spreading the word through evangelism every fortnight so as to establish and strengthen their roman catholic society.
Club handovers have also been held for this particular club or association where they invite neigbouring schools both primary and secondary and also other children in the community to not only come praise and worship with them but to also appreciate the students for their work while in their term of service and also bless the incoming cabinet to journey through their term of service successfully with the holy spirit at their forefront.
In the association , students get to learn how to play various muscial instruments such as the pianos , xylophones,harps,guitars, drums and shakers to develop their musical talents but to also introduce them to something new in their lives that will impart on their physcological growth and improve their mental health and also to give life to their mass as they pray.
They are also taught new songs in the church choir , how to conduct or lead the different songs and the basics on prayer and how to conduct oneself in the process. some become altar boys and girls to serve during church ministry and get to learn more about their religion while others learn how to read the bible through bible study and actively participate in their church service not leaving it to their leaders. they have also learnt to present their prayer intentions openely when the moment comes in church and pray for one another ,”says Ambrose Odongo the patron YCS club in YOYO SECONDARY SCHOOL”.
Father Andrew who serves with Divine Word Missionaries that happens to be the overseer of the catholic community in bidibidi together with 5 other chaplains today led the mass here in Yoyo secondary school during the club cabinet handover and blessing mass of the candidates says that it is important to lead by example and lead the flock well being the shepherd and that is what he is doing.
He says being their lead priest while in south sudan in yei diocese of lanya , He decided to follow his sheep that were fleeing as a result of the unending war in their country. he further goes ahead to disclose says that from the time he arrived in Bidibidi, his mission has been successful as with the help from the servants with the holyspirit from seven different countries, he has been able to win the hearts of approxiately 1500 refugees and with prayer he has been helpful in the healing process regardless of how traumatic their situation was back home in south sudan and this has improved the state of many refugees living in the settlement . and with this, he has been able to journey with them in the fight to grow stronger in their faith or in faith, learn new skills, get better education while in uganda in preparation for the task that awaits them ahead when they return back to their respective homes in south sudan not only as citizens but as better and changed people for love, justice and peace to reign.
The argument still continues that refugees have a negative impact effect on society have been a topic of great debate for many years , across many countries almost since time began , the human race has had problems when the situation in their area has changed for the worse and theyhave had to make tough descisions about where they should go next and the problem has never been a more prominent issue than in today’s society . however with the intervention of organisations like the UNHCR that have restored the hope and lives of the refugees, the narrative changes and solutions to improve the lives of the homeless is excuted. education, heallth , shelter among many remain key to their survival and thus change in the near future.