Carpentry skills offer refugee youth hope
Nadine Bahati was only 19 years old when she arrived at Kyangwali Refugee Settlement, in Uganda fleeing conflict in North Kivu province, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Nadine found herself being the bread winner in the family of four siblings.
Ms Bahati says: “I began doing odd jobs like cooking and cleaning to make money to buy food. My days would begin early when I would go in search of work. Sometimes, I would work late into the night.” She then decided to become a beautician but the cost of enrolling into college was too high.
When she found out about a carpentry course that was to run in the settlement for free, she enrolled. The programme started in July last year and run for six months.
Australian Red Cross partnered with AAH Uganda to offer a free training on carpentry that saw 20 beneficiaries sign up for the project, out of which eight graduated. Nadine was among the youths who benefitted. “I hope the skills acquired will enable me earn a living for my family,” she says.
Jacob sebishimbo, 22, came to Kyangwali Refugee Settlement, in Uganda with his parents in 1999. He has grown up in the area and does not remember life at Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Upon completing senior two, (Form Two) he resorted to working at his father’s farm.
“I got some money from my parents for to buy clothes. Before the carpentry training my life was so boring. There were no opportunities here for higher education or vocational training,” he says.
He adds: “I am so glad that I enrolled in the carpentry training course. I had always been interested in being able to make things but never had the chance to learn.”
The beneficiaries acquired skills they will use to get a livelihood. Key lessons learned were that in the event of a second intake, other vocational skills, such as catering and hairdressing which have greater appeal for the young women of the settlement, should be added to the carpentry project.