Monthly Archives: April 2016

Somalia refugee launches book in Zambia

“It started like a joke and I never knew it would grow to affect me like that. We were just hearing rumours of the war; little did we know it was that bad and deadly. Seated in Afmadow district in Somalia where I had not even completed my college studies, I saw people running in confusion in all directions and got alarmed. I talked to my siblings and we made quick arrangements to flee. In that state, we did not even know where to go,” reads part of Ahmed Abdirahman Abdi book entitled; Zambia: A land of peace and unity.

The uncertainties of how to cope with life in another country is one of the greatest challenges refugees like Ahmed face. However, Ahmed, 27, has managed to overcome this challenge; with the help AAH Zambia. Three years ago, under the Albert Einstein Refugee Academic Initiative scholarship programme, he continued with his education at Zambia’s Cavendish University. He is pursuing a degree in Economics.

He came to Zambia five years ago and settled at Maheba Refugee Settlement in North Western Zambia. In addition to continuing with his education, Ahmed has fulfilled a dream of writing a book, which is about his experiences in Zambia. The book was launched at the end of July in Lusaka, Zambia.

Speaking during the launch of the book, Ahmed said Zambia presents great opportunities for refugees; not only to experience peace but also access services such as education. “My book is about the peace and unity l have enjoyed in this country. In addition, to all the care and love given to us refugees by Zambians,” he added.

He is thankful of the support he has received from AAH Zambia, terming it as indispensable. “The encouragement l received when I started writing of the book up to this day, when it is being launched has been overwhelming. I remain indebted to this organisation and its partners,” Ahmed said.

He called on other refugee youth to rise above the challenges they face and take full advantage of the services organisations such as AAH Zambia are offering, to achieve what they had hoped of doing in their countries of origin.

Farmer turns seedlings and fruits growing into fruitful venture

Training communities can empower them and in turn immensely improve their lives. Samwuel Bwambale, 45, exemplifies this transformation. Bwambale, who hails from Wairagaza Village, Hoima district in Uganda received a range of training on tree planting 12 years ago.

He then turned the skills he acquired into a commercial venture of wood load, seedlings and fruits, which attracts not only individual buyers but also organisations. Currently, he has 30 acres of fruit trees and five acres of wood load, from less than ten acres under farming 12 years ago.

In early 2002, Bwambale and about 40 farmers were trained on nursery bed establishment, fruit production and energy conservation by AAH Uganda. Two months later, they were given mango, avocado, jack fruit and orange seedlings to act as mother gardens. AAH Uganda continued to give the farmers inputs such as potting paper, drums, gumboots, pangas, hoes, wheel barrows and watering cans. Bwambale’s woodlot consists of Eucalyptus and Maesopsis trees.

“In 2007 I was selected to be one of the commercial nursery propagators; the idea was for the nursery to be self-sustaining. I took up the task and I have maintained it to date,” says the father of six, with a smile. The sales of his seedlings depend on the clients. He makes an average of USh5 million (US$1412) per season from organisations and USh1.5 million (US$424) from individual farmers from the sale seedlings. There are two seasons per year.

Bwambale managed to buy two second hand vehicles out of the sale of fruits and seedlings, which also supports him to transport seedlings to his customers. He also bought 12 acres of land in Kabwoya Sub County in Hoima District, about 16 kilometres from his home. He bought the land in bits within three years (between 2010 – 2012) at a cumulative cost of Ush12 million (US$ 3428) to enable him expand on acreage of fruits and woodlot. He uses temporary workers for his woodlot and fruit farm.

He practices environment protection through planting trees and using energy saving stove (Lorena). These stoves use less firewood and cook faster compared to the three stone stove. He says the acquisition of tree seeds is difficult and costly to get from far areas, such as Bundibujyo and Kabale, which are 220 and 285 kilometres, respectively, from his home. In addition, oranges are declining due to pest and disease infestation and some fruits, especially jack fruit have low market demand, which leads to poor sales of fruits.

Joseph Okiria, a project officer, Agriculture and environment in Kyangwali Refugee Settlement says Bwambale is a role model. “He is role model to other farmers. He has transformed his life,” said Okiria.

Bwambale is beneficiary of livelihoods, agriculture and environmental protection sector. The sector falls within the larger UNHCR-funded multi-sectoral programme operating at the Kyangwali Refugee Settlement and implemented by AAH Uganda.

The other sectors are health and nutrition, education, water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) livelihoods, agriculture and environmental protection and mechanical workshop and logistics. Refugee operations by AAH Uganda have run since 1993 and assisted more than 200,000 refugees, mainly from South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Somalia.