Maria, her husband and six children, were living a good life in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
They had a large plot of land where they planted rice, maize and beans. The income generated from their farm was more than enough to sustain their family’s lifestyle and provide for the education of their six children. With their surplus, they were building houses on their property for rental income.
Maria’s pleasant life was abruptly and brutally altered the day that armed militias attacked their home. They first killed her husband right before her eyes and then violently abused her. When she regained consciousness and strength, she gathered all her children and they started the seven-day journey to Uganda to seek refugee status there.
For seven long days, Maria and her children slept in the bushes, dodging armed militias and robbers. Finally, they crossed the border to the safety and protection of Uganda. After processing, Maria and her children were resettled in the Rwamwanja Refugee Settlement. They were able to obtain assistance from the Office of the Prime Minister of Uganda, UNHCR, and the UN World Food Programme.
To supplement the meagre food rations, Maria would do odd jobs in the nearby host community. However, that all changed when COVID-19 restrictions came into effect. She could not find any work. To make matters worse for Maria and her children, the World Food Programme reduced their food rations due to a loss of donor funding.
Maria says, “My family, as well as many of my fellow refugees, are really struggling during this pandemic! We have had distributions of basic hygiene kits, but there was never enough soap and we worried about the spread of COVID-19. ADRA has provided help during this difficult time. They conducted training classes on how to make soap. We now have all the soap we need to keep ourselves and our homes safe. Also, now that we know how to make soap ourselves, it has given us a new income opportunity! I can see myself making a lot of soap that I can sell for profit. I believe that I will be able to make enough from this to support my six children. It is my goal to make enough so that all my children can finish school. They have big dreams in their hearts. They want to become doctors, lawyers and teachers so that they can one day return to their homeland and help build a better Congo one day. May God bless ADRA for their good work.”