Saturday, October 10, 2009
REFUGEE PROJECT IN RWANDA
The day we went to the Gihembe Refugee Camp it was raining and cold, especially by African standards. The camp is high in the hills of Rwanda 60 km. from Kigali. It was 55 degrees and the sky was dark with low hanging rain clouds. The camp was established in 1997 to host Congolese refugees fleeing the fighting between rebel groups and the government. Twelve years later, continued and renewed fighting has sent a new wave of refugees to the camp. There are 4,000 mud houses holding more than 19,000 refugees of which 11.000 are children. On days of heavy rains, walls of some of the houses collapse or are carried away by mud slides.
Today, the children huddle beside the buildings or under blankets for warmth.
The Church, through Deseret International Charities, has partnered with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and sent 10 containers of supplies totaling 180 tons of clothing, wheelchairs,blankets, shoes, hygiene, school and newborn kits. We were there to begin the distribution of the supplies. They were sorely needed, especially by the children. The hygiene kits were desperately needed. In the camp every pit latrine is shared by 27 people and proper hygiene is a major concern.
The warm clothing, blankets and shoes were especially needed and appreciated. One item slightly out of place was a lime green toilet seat cover...in a camp with no toilets. However, one young boy made an excellent winter hat out of it.
This baby, born the day before our arrival, will receive a new blanket and one of the new born kits.
These children posed for us in their newly acquired clothing. As we were leaving, the rain stopped and the sun came out briefly. We hoped that it signified a brighter day ahead for the residents of Gihembe. As we left, more UNHCR trucks were coming into the camp with additional supplies from the containers.