I am so glad you asked. Just like every other place in the world the COVID pandemic has far-reaching effects, well beyond the symptoms of the virus. For our brothers and sisters living in refugee camps, the problems are compounded by the recent trauma of having to flee their homeland due to violence.
As you know from our previous emails, the pandemic has caused a worldwide increased need for food. The demand for food assistance has overwhelmed the United Nations’ ability to manage. Food rations have diminished for the refugees in Northern Uganda. Hunger causes people to do things they would not otherwise do.
In July of this year a young mother was caught stealing maize from a neighbor’s garden. She was arrested and beaten by the authorities. The woman was released and allowed to keep the food. The owner of the garden belongs to a different tribe than the woman. Fighting broke out between the tribesmen and many were killed and more were injured. A large section of the camp was burned, leaving many families bereft of all household and personal belongings. This heartbreaking story was the impetus for Living Water Community Transformation to do an emergency food distribution. But an emergency food distribution is not a sustainable solution to hunger. LWCT was able to acquire 180 acres of land to plant church gardens. Those gardens are flourishing now. Praise the Lord. COVID can’t stop what God does.
Another tragic situation resulting from the COVID precautions is the closure of schools for so many months. Teen age pregnancy and alcoholism have significantly increased in the camps. According to Joyce Muraa, the Baptist Women’s Ministry Director, an atmosphere of hopelessness is palpable. LWCT is responding to this urgent need by quickly opening a vocational training center for young adults. Church members voluntarily sprang into action to construct a temporary building that will serve as a tailoring school for young women. A professional tailor, who is a refugee, is teaching 20 students Monday through Friday to become seamstresses. With the help of Baptist leaders we were able to purchase and transport 22 treadle machines to Morobi Refugee camp. A shipping container, converted to an office for Living Water Vocational Training Center is on the way to the site. Our plan is to expand the school to include skills training for soap making, mechanics and carpentry. We covet your prayers for this alternative education program.
The Ugandan government allowed schools to partially open this week. Students who are in their last year of college, secondary school and primary school are allowed to attend now. The complete opening of schools for all students is scheduled for January 2021. The COVID precautions we are observing here are also mandated in the camps, including social distancing. The supplies and equipment needed were supplied by LWCT: hand washing stations, no touch thermometers, masks and hand sanitizing liquid. The returning students to Ebenezer Secondary School were very surprised to see the improvements made for their school ground.
Though it seems things have come to a halt due to the pandemic, but be assured that God is at work. He is at work through you. Thank you from the Board of Living Water CT and from many refugees in Uganda. I guess we are all just temporary sojourners, awaiting our home going to our permanent home.
For you (God) have been a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in his distress, a shelter form the storm and shade from the heat; for the breath of the ruthless is like a storm against a wall. (Isaiah 25:4)
Your sister in Christ,
Ann Rao, President