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  • Writer's picturekwankew

A Walk into the Village of the Refugee Settlement

Curious about the way the refugee live, I tried to explore the village on my own. The refugees make use of the land by growing a variety of crops and vegetables. As far as I can see, they grow corns, sorghum, sunflowers, beans, cassava, sweet potatoes, ground nuts…Some keep a few goats, chickens and ducks. Many of their activities happen outside the house, I often wonder what it would be like during the rainy season. In the heat of the day, even the animals take shelter in the shade wherever they can find it.

Some refugees have opened small stores selling small items and airtime for cell phones. There is even a hotel just right outside the health center.

Women often work together shucking maize or corn while socializing, pounding sorghum into flour, mashing reeds and then drying them for weaving. Corns, sorghum, cassava, groundnuts are left drying in the sun.

Children often play out in the dirt. I have not seen any toys yet. Some boys have tied layers of plastics together to make them into a ball to kick with or a bicycle tire to roll with. Some kind organization has built a playground right close by the clinic, some place that the children can play in besides dirt.

As I walked into the village, I seldom hear the word “Mzungu” (foreigners or white person) thrown at me except by a few grown-ups. Perhaps it is not a word commonly used in the Congo or Rwanda.

These are pictures I took way past lunch hour. The children share a meal of potatoes and beans in the kitchen while their mothers have their meals under the shade of a tree. One of the children is sitting next to some hot coals left after the cooking.

After passing a row of houses, I saw a structure in a clearing which a man told me is their Catholic church. We tried to converse in a mixture of English and French and I was able to find out that he is from the Congo and has five children while his parents are still in the Congo. The community has no money to build a church and this structure is the best they can come up with. I sat on the bench and tried to imagine sitting on it for the whole service. One needs to be rather alert or risk falling off the bench.

Life goes on despite all the difficulties. The refugees seem to try hard to go on with their lives even if exiled from their homeland.

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