HIJRA stirs Refugees to Extend a Helping Hand to Each Other to Cope in Nakivale, Settlement, Uganda


Kabazana Reception Centre is the first point of contact for new asylum seekers in Nakivale Refugee Settlement. The centre that is managed by HIJRA continues to receive new arrivals daily from different countries from the East and Horn of Africa with different vulnerabilities and needs. Among the needs include; clothes, sanitary materials, soap, beddings, scholastic and play materials for children like toys and balls among others.  The needs are expressed by the Persons of Concern (new arrivals, Asylum seekers, and Refugees) at the Reception Centre during routine individual interviews, Focused Group Discussion (FGD), Meetings and Awareness Sessions conducted by HIJRA teams at the Centre. Most often, needs are provided by UNHCR, HIJRA other implementing partners as well as well-wishers but these are limited. During engagements with various refugee communities in the settlement, HIJRA inspires refugees who are coping well to extend a helping hand to new asylum seekers and vulnerable ones given the limited resources to meet all Persons of concern needs

Most often, there is a presumption that refugees only stand at the receiving end of things, yet through discussions with refugees, HIJRA has found many refugees willing to help each other if they can be supported to be self-reliant and appreciated. Thus, HIJRAs engagement with refugees has focused on inspiring refugees to become self-reliant and to play a vital role in mobilizing resources to help vulnerable refugees cope. This paid off this year when one Prince Milenge, 21, Congolese refugee who on engaging with the HIJRA Reception Center team learnt of the limited scholastic materials and toys for children at the Early Child Development Center. This stirred Prince to help the children with toys to enable them take consistent interest in attending sessions at the centre.

Prince who came to Uganda in 2013 through Kampala stayed in Kampala for 2 years but relocated to Nakivale in 2015 first staying at the Reception Centre. After obtaining his refugee status and settling out of the centre with his family, Prince built a career teaching English lessons in the Somali community where he was earning 15,000 shillings teaching a total of ten people per day. Three months later, Prince opened a school to teach English in Sangano for adults at Basecamp in Nakivale. The School that commenced with 100 students comprising of fifty (50) adults and fifty (50) children currently has 200 students employing five teachers. While he remained engaged at his school, Prince stayed concerned for the children at the Reception Center who did not have enough materials to study or play. He said;

“Though I started a school at Basecamp, I stayed concerned and planning how I could help the children I left at the Reception center who had limited scholastic material and toys which are very important for the growth of children.  So I decided to fundraise for toys in churches, my school and personal donations”  

Prince successfully acquired toys that he donated to children at the Reception Centre Early Child Development Centre (ECD) which has motivated many children who were not interested in attending the centre sessions into attending classes. This has seen the number of children attending ECD classes increasing to 45 pupils per day from 30 in the previous records.

HIJRA is continuing to engage refugee communities to reach out to support new asylum seekers to settle in and cope thus strengthening community based protection in the settlements. Kabazana Reception Center has this year received 3,324 (1,486F, 1,838M) new arrivals that includes1, 271 of these being children.