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Providing a Voice for Refugees

Story by Nothing But Nets April 1st, 2015

More than 160 miles from the bustling Ugandan city of Kampala, Nakivale Refugee Settlement is a peaceful place made up of 36 villages across 76 square miles. It is home to more than 74,000 refugees and asylum-seekers. Forever Mulumeoaerwa is a 31-year-old refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He came to Nakivale in 2012 to escape the violence in the Congo. He walks with a limp – he barely survived polio as a child. Forever speaks six languages – a very helpful skill here, where 11 nationalities can be found. He works as a teacher and a translator in this community, teaching mainly adults key languages to help them be successful.

“I think I have a gift, and I like to exchange this gift,” he says.

Forever’s story was like many others – we met so many refugees at Nakivale who have helped build a sense of community and resilience for the people here. Many have started businesses or volunteer their time as health workers. It’s a peaceful settlement and many refugees and partners work hand in hand. Established in 1958 for Rwandan refugees, Nakivale has been in operation thanks to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) for more than 55 years and works with several implementing partners including Medical Teams International, American Refugee Committee, World Food Programme, Samaritan’s Purse, Nsamizi, and Windle Trust Uganda, among others. It works in cooperation with the Ugandan government.

Refugees at Nakivale work hard to build the community and a new life.

We met Forever while visiting one of the larger health facilities at Nakivale. He is accompanying his sister who needs care. Thankfully, they don’t suspect malaria, though he’s had it several times since he came to Nakivale. He’s happy to have bednets in his home now and religiously sleeps under them at night.

Last year, the health clinics at Nakivale Refugee Settlement 
treated more than 63,000 cases of malaria.

But last year, there were more than 63,000 cases of malaria – that’s an astounding number for a population of 74,000. Here, malaria is the number one cause of illness and death among children under five. And it is estimated that approximately 45% of households do not yet have access to a bednet. After all these families have been through, the last thing they should have to worry about is their child dying from a mosquito bite.

Nothing But Nets has pledged to protect millions of refugee families like those at Nakivale Refugee Settlement by raising funds for one million bednets by the end of 2016. Learn more and take the pledge.

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Here at Nakivale, malaria is the leading cause of illness and death among children under age five.
Footnote: Photo credits: Corentin Fohlen/Nothing But Nets
Nakivale, Katete Road, Mbarara, Western Region, Uganda
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