With an estimated 29,000 refugees the camp at Pagirinya, Adjumani District, Northern Uganda is not at all what you would expect. There are no crowds of people. It is very quiet, like a recently abandoned village.
Wilson Manyok, our guide, walks with us to some of the huts where two young women extend a cold handshake. Both women wear light clothing, one is in a nightdress; “It is all I have” she says, clutching her forearms. Indeed, clothing and shoes are some of the greatest needs in the refugee camp. The UN reports that when refugees flee, often the only things they will carry are the clothes on their back and many arrive with swollen feet from the long hazardous walk to Uganda.
Wilson is the leader of 222,330 registered refugees living in 33 camps. He recalls; “The refugees have seen their friends and relatives being killed, some have been subjected to torture and all have had to settle into a new environment.” Wilson himself walked 19 days from Jongole state to get to Uganda and passed 37 bodies by the roadside on his journey. He shares his passion to ensure that he raises his family well, that his people reconcile, receive an education and make the most of their lives here in Uganda so that the generation that returns to South Sudan will be one without tribal divisions. He says, “We cannot continue to think in the same way that is causing the conflict, we are not tribes of people, we are one people, we are South Sudan.”
As the sun sets over the refugee camp, we ask Wilson what one message he would like to relay to the world. Without missing a breath, he says, “Do not forget about us.”
Thank you to everyone who has generously supported the East Africa Emergency Appeal. Your sacrificial giving has enabled Fields of Life and our partners in Northern Uganda to provide emergency supplies, counselling and clean water for thousands of refugees and host communities.
Five wells have already been drilled in the host community around BidiBidi and another five are being drilled within BidiBidi; the largest settlement of refugees in the world.
You can still support the East Africa Emergency Appeal by donating here.
Communications Officer, Fields of Life East Africa