“When we first arrived we were constantly beaten by rain. It was too cold at night and too hot on sunny days in our tarpaulin houses. We didn’t have a kitchen so we had to cook our food in the open where the sun and the rain used to punish us.”
In August 2013, Mbanani Saulo (34), his wife and children arrived in Kyangwali refugee settlement after fleeing violence between the government and M23 rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Another 12,400 Congolese refugees would join them before the end of the year.
Refugees in Kyangwali are given a plot of land, a tarpaulin and building materials to construct a shelter. AAH Uganda also shares knowledge and skills to support refugees to rebuild their lives. Education sessions such as regular sanitation and hygiene demonstrations at village water points and in households like Mbanani’s are essential to ensuring the good health of the community.
“Before, there were faeces all over the compound. Our plates lay on the ground and pigs were eating from them. We used to suffer a lot from diarrhoeal diseases and jiggers [Chigoe fleas],” said Mbanani.
“Then AAH Uganda showed us how to improve sanitation and hygiene in our compound. They gave us digging tools, slabs and logs and taught us how to construct a latrine.
“With skills I learned from AAH, I built a better house with a kitchen to protect us from the weather. I also made a rubbish pit, a drying line for our clothes and a plate stand so now our cups and plates stay clean out of reach of the pigs.”
“The regular visits from the AAH team gave me the energy to keep going. Now my home looks beautiful and our health is much better. We no longer suffer from diarrhoea or jiggers and now we have the convenience of using the latrine any time because it gives us privacy.”
As told to Sizomu Abubakar Shariff, Sanitation and Hygiene Assistant.