UGANDA: Salesian missionaries host UNHCR to launch ‘Facial masks for refugees and host community’ project at Palabek Refugee Resettlement Camp
(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries at the Don Bosco Vocational Training Center in the Palabek Refugee Resettlement Camp in Uganda hosted the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) launch of the “Facial masks for refugees and host community” project on July 8. Salesians, alongside refugees in the camp, have been engaged in coronavirus prevention efforts such as making masks. The camp currently houses 56,000 people.
The Honorable Hilary Onek, minister for relief, disaster preparedness and refugees in the Ugandan Cabinet, said, “Don Bosco Palabek has been a pioneer in the production of face masks and was very innovative, not only in the Palabek settlement but throughout northern Uganda and across the nation.”
Despite very limited resources in Palabek, refugees began making masks and distributed them free of charge to other refugees and to all community workers. Charles Uma, administrative director of the Lamwo district, said, “When the lockdown in Uganda was declared on March 18, I received a generous number of masks from Palabek for district use.”
Felicitas Nebril, UNHCR regional manager, noted in her speech at the launch event, “This activity is the best example of refugees involved in socio-economic activities. Palabek has contributed to the well-being of refugees and local communities. You have become, in fact, the role models for the host community.”
Nebril also encouraged refugees to use the face masks regularly to maintain the settlement’s zero-COVID status. To date, a group of 20 girls has produced at least 10,000 masks of different shapes and sizes and will continue to produce others and distribute them for free.
In his speech, Onek said, “The eyes of Don Bosco’s missionaries were sharp in seeing the needs and challenges of the people. When the government had not provided funding for the masks for refugees, missionaries started production. By doing it in our district and in this new training center, you have made us proud.”
He thanked the Salesians for bringing the Don Bosco Vocational Training Center to this extreme corner of the country, a place that had been neglected for several decades. He noted, “You will raise well-prepared young people, both refugees and locals, and bring peace and harmony throughout the area.”
Salesian missionaries launched a vocational training center to offer life skills and other training to help young refugees prepare for employment. Young refugees can attend vocational training courses for free. Depending on the discipline, some courses run for 3-6 months while others run as long as a year. Salesian missionaries have also set up a job placement office that helps students make contact with companies that are hiring, prepare resumes and prep for interviews, and find internships and on-site training opportunities.
During this period of isolation, the Salesians living and working in Palabek have been engaged in implementing numerous COVID-19 prevention measures with the support of Don Bosco Jugendhilfe Weltweit and other supporters.
ANS Photos (usage permissions and guidelines must be requested from ANS)
Salesian Missions – Uganda