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UGANDA: Refugees help solve food shortage

Refugees at Palabek Refugee Resettlement Camp see harvest of their community garden crops


(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries living and working at Palabek Refugee Resettlement Camp in Uganda are addressing food shortfalls for refugees. Salesians have been encouraging donations of seeds so refugees can plant and harvest their own food in community gardens that have been set up. Recently, a harvest took place from the work done and donations over the last several months. JuWe Vereinigung Don Bosco Werk in Switzerland has collaborated in these efforts.

While the camp is receiving some direct food donations, Salesian missionaries wanted refugees to take part in helping to solve the food shortage. Refugees, with Salesian support, are cultivating their own food including cereals, vegetables, and some cash crops such as sim sim, groundnuts and sunflower. Community gardens have been launched on farm land rented from local Ugandans. Salesians have provided several hundred kilos of maize, beans, soya beans, sim sim, groundnuts and many assorted vegetable seeds. They have also provided tons of cassava cuttings.

Palabek Refugee Resettlement Camp is currently home to more than 56,000 refugees and asylum seekers. It was officially set up in April 2016 to reduce congestion in larger refugee camps in the northwestern corner of Uganda. Several agencies are involved in providing food and education within Palabek. While some have left because of the pandemic, Salesians have remained.

Even before COVID-19, living conditions in Palabek were not easy. Food distribution was scarce and there were difficulties in accessing drinking water. With the arrival of the pandemic, everything has become even more complicated. The amount of food delivered to refugees once a month has been reduced by 30 percent, classes and activities were suspended, and episodes of violence, alcoholism, and teenage pregnancies began.

Earlier this year, Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, provided food, 300 blankets for those with disabilities, cookware and other items for people in need. The funding also paid for transportation costs from Kampala to Palabek, gas for transport vehicles around the camp and motorbike repairs. Other funding provided incentives to social workers who are working in the camp under difficult circumstances.

“With Salesian Missions support we have been able to provide food and other necessities for people in need, particularly those with disabilities,” said Father Ubaldino, a Salesian missionary working at Palabek. “This donation is greatly appreciated because there is hunger and malnutrition and other nutritional deficiencies among the refugees. This creates much frustration, anger and other social disturbances. With this donation and others, Salesians have distributed many tons of food and clothing, especially to the poorest.”

Salesian missionaries at the settlement are offering much needed psychosocial support and pastoral care for thousands of Christian residents. They also operate four nursery schools that educate more than 1,000 children. In addition, there are over 700 children attending Salesian primary and secondary schools, and more than 700 families are supported by other initiatives. Salesian missionaries also launched a vocational training center to offer life skills and other training to help young refugees prepare for employment.



Don Bosco Palabek Refugee Resettlement Camp

Salesian Missions – Uganda